After getting shut out for the first time this season last night, No. 2 Penn State got back to its winning ways against No. 11 Ohio State tonight to split the series. The Nittany Lions had more than a month break in between games — it’s understandable they came out sluggish. But with a game under its belt in the new year, the team was sharper in tonight’s matchup. The Nittany Lions looked good, especially offensively, despite committing seven penalties that contributed to an Ohio State rally. They beat the Buckeyes 4-2.
How It Happened
Penn State appeared poised for another slow start as a team in this game. In the opening five minutes of action, both teams combined for five shots, which is uncharacteristic of Gadowsky’s squad. Defense played a key role early in this one and throughout the entirety of the first period. Penn State eventually managed to fire 12 shots on net in the first while limiting the Buckeyes to only five shots.
The first penalties of the game came 14 minutes into the first when coincidental minors got called on James Robinson for interference and Janik Moser of the Buckeyes for cross-checking. With the open space in the four-on-four neither team could strike first with only three shots combined from the teams with both men in the box. The first power play of the game came one minute after the minors expired when Zach Saar was sent to the box for high sticking giving Ohio State the man-advantage.
Christian Frey had an impressive first period in net for the Buckeyes, but Penn State would eventually strike and get on the board four minutes into the second period when Brandon Biro netted his fourth of the season. David Goodwin and Trevor Hamilton were credited with the assists for the first Nittany Lion goal of 2017.
Penn State played undisciplined hockey most of the game, but more so in the second period. The team committed three penalties in the frame resulting in two separate 5-on-3 opportunities for the Buckeyes. The first one lasted 22 seconds, but as soon as Andrew Sturtz got out of the box Trevor Hamilton got called for hitting from behind to send Ohio State on another 5-on-3. The Nittany Lion defense remained stout and killed off the multiple penalties in the period.
About halfway through the period Penn State got a huge opportunity when Josh Healey received a game misconduct after hitting Goodwin in the head. However, the Nittany Lions couldn’t capitalize on the 5-minute power play and went into the second intermission with a 1-0 advantage.
The third period was a frantic frame for both sides. Erik Autio buried his second goal of the season three minutes in unassisted. Penn State then committed its sixth penalty of the game seven minutes into the final frame sending Saar to the box for the second time in the game. This time Penn State added another tally when Ricky DeRosa scored his third of the season on the short-handed opportunity.
Penn State couldn’t take full control of the game when it gave Ohio State yet another 5-on-3 opportunity. The Nittany Lions couldn’t kill this penalty when the Buckeyes scored back-to-back goals within 43 seconds of each other to quickly erase Penn State’s lead to make it 3-2.
The Buckeyes made things interesting late by applying a lot of pressure on the freshman net minder, but Jones stood tall and made sure Ohio State never tied the game up. Chase Berger sealed the deal with only one second remaining scoring on the empty net while on the power play for his seventh of the season. Denis Smirnov and Biro added assists on the final goal.
At the end, Penn State outshot Ohio State 43-27 in typical Penn State fashion. Jones stopped 24 of the 26 shots he saw tonight. Despite the win, the Nittany Lions lost the face-off battle 37-26 tonight with Berger going 5-24 from the circle, but he did score a goal on eight shots.
Player Of The Game
Peyton Jones | Freshman | Goalie
Peyton Jones stood tall for the Nittany Lions tonight stopping 24 of the 26 shots he faced. The two goals he gave up tonight were when the Buckeyes had the man-advantage. Jones also saw three different 5-on-3 opportunities for the opposition and six total power plays for Ohio State. Jones had a solid game, especially late when Ohio State made its push. The freshman has been one of the many bright spots on this Nittany Lion team this year.
The Nittany Lions will return to Pegula for their next game when they begin a weekend series against Michigan State on Friday. The puck drops at 7 p.m.