It was looking like the Union hockey team was going to have a long trip home from Penn State, and it had nothing to do with traffic.
The 15th-ranked Dutchmen were down, 4-1, midway through the second period. Starting goalie Colin Stevens was pulled in favor of Alex Sakellaropoulos after giving up two goals in 1:25 in the second.
But the Dutchmen rallied from the three-goal deficit in dramatic fashion, pulling out a 5-4 non-conference victory over the Nittany Lions on Sunday at Pegula Ice Arena when junior left winger Daniel Ciampini scored with three seconds left in regulation.
The victory gave the Dutchmen (8-3-2), who have won five straight, a sweep of the two-game series. They blew a 3-0 lead Saturday, but won, 4-3.
But Sunday’s victory was sweeter for Dutchmen coach Rick Bennett.
“It was awesome,” Bennett said. “It was a great team win. It was nice. Everybody pitched in. It was a great, solid team effort.”
The start of the game was delayed 15 minutes after an alarm when off in the area about the time the teams were preparing for the pregame warmup. The delay didn’t seem to affect the Nittany Lions (3-7-1), who took a 2-0 lead on power-play goals by Zach Saar and Luke Juha in the first 8:06 of the first period.
Freshman center Mike Vecchione got the Dutchmen back within one on a power-play goal at 6:06 of the second period. But Eric Scheid made it 3-1 with 9:42 left in the per-iod. Stevens’ night ended when a David Glen shot hit the skate of Union freshman defenseman Jeff Taylor and slipped into the net at 11:43.
Enter Sakellaropoulos, who hadn’t played since a 2-2 tie at UConn on Oct. 25. Sakellarop-oulos, who started four straight games after Stevens was injured in the Oct. 11 season opener against Bowling Green, stopped all 11 shots he faced.
“ ‘Sak came in and shut the door for us,” Bennett said. “It gave our bench some life. He makes that first [save], and he calms people down.”
Dutchmen junior defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who had a season-high 12 shots on goal in the game, ignited the comeback with a pair of power-play goals 3:04 apart in the second.
“I thought one of the turning points was those power plays,” Bennett said. “Another big player stepped up.”
The Dutchmen tied it when a cross-ice pass by Matt Hatch, who was leading a two-on-one break on the right side, to Michael Pontarelli deflected off the skate of a Penn State defenseman and slipped past goalie Eamon McAdam at 6:49 of the third period.
The Dutchmen continued to pressure the Nittany Lions. They had 21 shots on goal in the third. Ciampini made sure the last shot on goal got into the net.
As the clock was winding down, Ciampini skated through two Penn State defenders and got the puck past McAdam for his seventh of the season.
“I made a move,” Ciampini said, “got a lucky bounce off a guy’s stick, the goalie tried to poke check, so I had to go around him and had to reach around him. It’s probably the biggest goal of my college career.”
Bennett was amazed by the goal.
“It’s just a super, individual, outside-inside move,” Bennett said. “He went hard to the net, went to his backhand and threw it in. I thought it was a big-time play a guy who’s coming on in that department. It’s nice to have a guy that’s really stepping up in that department.”
The Dutchmen, who are in second place in ECAC Hockey, return to conference play this weekend at Messa Rink when they host Princeton at 7 p.m. Friday and league-leading Quinnipiac at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Union 0 3 2 — 5
Penn State 2 2 0 — 4
First Period — 1, Penn State, Saar 1 (Scheid, Juha), 3:58 (pp). 2, Penn State, Juha 4 (Scheid, Goodwin), 8:06 (pp). Penalties — Vasaturo, Uni (interference), 3:25; Wilkins, Uni (boarding), 6:47; McDonagh, PS (hooking), 8:54.
Second Period — 3, Union, Vecchione 4 (Taylor, Pontarelli), 6:06 (pp). 4, Penn State, Scheid 6 (Goodwin), 10:18. 5, Penn State, Glen 1 (Brooks), 11:43 (sh). 6, Union, Gostisbehere 5 (Bodie, Novak), 12:48 (pp). 7, Union, Gostisbehere 6 (Vecchione), 15:54 (pp). Penalties — Lichtenwald, Uni (roughing), 2:41; Yanis, PS (roughing), 2:41; Saar, PS (ob.-hooking), 5:57; Ciampini, Uni (tripping), 8:07; Yanis, PS (high-sticking), 10:41; Brooks, PS (charging), 12:03; Yanis, PS (interference), 15:32.
Third Period — 8, Union, Hatch 5, 6:49. 9, Union, Ciampini 7 (Novak), 19:57. Penalties — None.
Shots on Goal — Union 9-13-21 — 43. Penn State 8-7-8 — 23.
Power-play opportunities — Union 3 of 5; Penn State 2 of 3.
Goalies — Union, Stevens (12 shots-8 saves), Sakellaropoulos 2-2-2 (11-11). Penn State, McAdam 0-4-0 (43-38).
A — 5,177. T — 2:19.
Referees — Marco Hunt, Todd Anderson. Linesmen — Zach Roberts, Ray King.