Robert Morris goalie Terry Shafer's 59 saves simply weren't enough.
With the score deadlocked and less than two minutes left, a blocked shot ricocheted right to Nittany Lions forward Eric Scheid, who, barreling into the slot, flicked the winning goal past Shafer.
"Couldn't have asked for a more gift-wrapped goal," Scheid said afterward, smiling.
Penn State scored two third-period goals to knock off the Colonials, 3-2, in the first round of the Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center Friday night and advance to the championship game today against seventh-ranked Boston College.
A year ago, Robert Morris gave Penn State a 6-0 face-washing in the first round of the inaugural holiday classic. This time, Penn State put up a fight.
Shafer, who gave up five goals in his previous outing, stood tall, beaten only by two power-play goals until the last-minute dagger. When Shafer stepped off the ice, head bowed, Colonials coach Derek Schooley gave him a hug.
"We had a chance to steal this game because our goaltending was outstanding," a visibly frustrated Schooley said after the game. "I give [Shafer] an A-plus, and I give the rest of the team an F.
"Goaltenders are judged by wins and losses. Terry Shafer deserved better. Terry Shafer deserved more help."
Even that final blocked shot was a thorn, a perfect feed to Scheid that dashed the Colonials' dream of defending their Confluence Cup title.
Robert Morris will face Bowling Green in the consolation game this afternoon. The Falcons lost, 5-0, to Boston College earlier Friday.
The night game marked the fourth one-goal game in five meetings between Robert Morris and Penn State. The Colonials dominated the flow of play Nov. 1 and finally came away with a 5-4 victory.
"This was a game where they completely dominated us," Schooley said. "Our goalie had a chance to steal, and we just didn't get the bounce. ... Anybody can beat anybody on any given night in college hockey. If you don't show up, you're going to get beat."
After a scoreless first period, Robert Morris broke through on the power play just two minutes into the second frame.
Junior forward Cody Wydo won a faceoff back to redshirt sophomore defenseman Tyson Wilson, whose wristed a one-timer beneath the glove of Penn State goalie Matthew Skoff. It was Wilson's first goal this season.
Later in the period, the Colonials got in penalty trouble, and eventually paid a high price for it. With freshman forward Ben Robillard already in the box for high sticking, Wilson was whistled for tripping.
Robert Morris fought off the first of the two penalties, but Nittany Lions defenseman Nate Jensen's seeing-eye shot from the blue line slipped past Shafer at 8:58 for Penn State's 12th power-play goal this season.
Jensen's goal came on the Nittany Lions' 33rd shot -- the Colonials had 14 shots at that point. By the end of the second period, Shafer had pushed aside 45 of 46 shots.
Schooley turned to his assistants and joked: "He might get 99 saves tonight, the way we're going about it."
Robert Morris forward David Friedmann broke the 1-1 deadlock with 1:21 remaining in the second period when he scooped up a deflection on the right side of the crease and shoveled it past Skoff.
Penn State struck back midway through the third period when junior forward Tommy Olczyk, the team captain and son of former Penguins center and head coach Eddie Olczyk, flipped a backhand past Shafer for the Nittany Lions' second power-play goal of the game.
With the table set, Scheid finished off the comeback on the 62nd shot of the night, propelling Penn State into the Three Rivers Classic final.