Chris Cara Breaks Patriot League Career Scoring Record, But No. 12 Bucknell Falls to Penn State, 11-10
April 19, 2005
LEWISBURG Pa. - Bucknell's Chris Cara became the Patriot League's all-time leading scorer with a six-point game, but the night ended on a sour note for the 12th-ranked Bison, who dropped a fast-paced 11-10 decision to visiting Penn State on Tuesday night at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. The disappointment doubled when the team learned that Army overcame a big deficit to defeat upset-minded Holy Cross by the same 11-10 margin in double overtime, ending Bucknell's chances of hosting the Patriot League Tournament later this month.
Cara entered the game needing four points to equal the Patriot League scoring record of 238 set by Army's Tim Pearson from 1999-2002. He finished with six on three goals and three assists, giving the national scoring leader 240 points for his career. His goal with 1:20 left in the game brought Bucknell within one after it had trailed 11-7 just moments earlier.
The Nittany Lions (6-5) got back-to-back goals from John Eremus to build that game-high four-goal cushion and still led 11-7 inside six minutes to play when the Bison (7-4) tried a valiant comeback.
With 5:30 to play Cara hit Patrick Christensen for a fastbreak goal, then Christensen scored again off a Steve Case feed just after Ryan Goodman's faceoff win. Later, Bucknell's riding unit forced a big turnover and Christensen corralled the loose ball, drove toward the goal and dished to Cara, who scored as he received a big hit from the defense.
Penn State's Greg Gurenlian, who came into the game winning nearly 66 percent of his faceoffs on the year, controlled the biggest draw of the night just after Bucknell had pulled within a single goal, and the Nittany Lions were able to run out the clock without losing possession. Gurenlian won 15 of 22 at the X on the night and led all players with nine ground balls.
In addition to Cara's half-dozen points, Christensen finished with three goals and an assist, while Case had a pair of assists. Nate Whitaker led Penn State with three goals and two assists, while Patrick Heim, Eremus, Brian Boyle and long-stickman Jesse Tarr scored two goals apiece.
Penn State stunned the home crowd with three goals before the Bison even had an offensive possession. Right off the game's opening faceoff Whitaker tallied off a Gurenlian feed for a goal just seven seconds into the game. Boyle scored twice in 24 seconds to make it 3-0 at the 13:06 mark of the opening period.
But the Bison shook off the early deficit with a 4-0 run of their own. Brian Gargan put Bucknell on the board with a hard lefty shot, then Cara scored twice in succession, the latter on an acrobatic diving shot in front of Penn State goalie Chris Courteau.
Kirk Klett made it 4-3 with a tough catch and shot in traffic with 7:57 left in the quarter, giving Bucknell a four-goal outburst in only 3:35.
But the Lions regained much of the momentum when Heim's shot from the left wing found the net with only one second left in the period, making it 4-all after one. Heim opened the second period scoring to give Penn State the lead back, and Tarr bounced one in with his long stick two minutes later to make it 6-4.
A pair of Bison freshmen helped spark another rally. First, Rick Carolan scored from a tough angle after a Cara pass, then Nick Marks scored from out high to tie it at 6-6 with 6:12 to play in the first half. But the up-tempo Lions answered quickly off another faceoff win, with Whitaker scoring the go-ahead marker just 24 seconds later. Tarr potted another transition goal with 1:49 left in the second to make it 8-6 at the end of a high-scoring first half.
Early in the second half Christensen finished a Cara feed with three Penn State players in the penalty box, bringing the Bison within 8-7, but the Lions picked up the next three to seemingly take control, setting up Bucknell's ill-fated comeback attempt.
Bucknell outshot Penn State 38-34, but the Nittany Lions had the better of the loose balls, claiming a 35-23 ground ball edge, including a 20-9 advantage in the first half. Courteau finished with 15 saves, while Bucknell's Matt Baran had 13.
The Bison conclude the 2005 regular season on Saturday at Colgate at 3 p.m. With a victory Bucknell would join Navy and Army at 5-1 and create a three-way tie for the Patriot League regular-season title. However, Navy would prevail in the tiebreaker and get the No. 1 seed. Thus, the top three seeds are set for the tournament. Bucknell will be seeded No. 3 and face No. 2 Army in the first round on Friday, Apr. 29 at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, Md. Game times for the opening round have not been announced.
Had Holy Cross defeated Army on Tuesday, Bucknell could have joined Navy in a two-way tie atop the standings with a win at Colgate. The Bison would have prevailed in that scenario thanks to an overtime win over the Midshipmen earlier in the season.