Penn State Hockey Falls Again to Michigan State, 3-2
After Michigan State shutout the Lions Friday night, the two teams reconvened Saturday to finish their weekend series. Michigan State came away with the 3-2 win and put the series in the books as a Big Ten sweep.
Penn State’s Matt Skoff was credited with the loss and Michigan State’s Jake Hildebrand won his second straight game. Mackenzie MacEachern scored three goals for the Spartans, while Connor Varley and Casey Bailey scored Penn State’s two.
How It Happened
The Nittany Lions, after having been outshot the night before, came out flying in the first period. They drew penalty after penalty from the Spartans, but just like the night before, Hildebrand stood on his head. Penn State led in shots, 15-8, after the period, but did not lead in goals.
While the frame was winding down, Michigan State’s Ron Boyd fired a pass off of the boards. A fortunate bounce found Mackenzie MacEachern in the slot, who easily one-timed the puck over Skoff’s shoulder. Despite Penn State dictating play, the Spartans led 1-0 after the first period.
Halfway through the second period, the weekend shutout was finally broken when Connor Varley blasted his second goal of the year home from the high slot. Hildebrand couldn’t find the puck through a moving screen, and the puck bounced in off of the post. It looked like the sleeping giant that was Penn State’s offense finally awoke, but with it came too much undisciplined play. After consecutive penalties gave Michigan State a 5-on-3 advantage, MacEachern buried his second of the night to give his team the 2-1 lead. That was the last goal of the frame, and Penn State skated off trailing despite outshooting its opponents 36-20.
The third period’s beginning coincided with Penn State’s loss of momentum. Only racking up one shot in the first ten minutes of the frame, it looked like the game was all but over. Sure enough, with five minutes left in the game, MacEachern capped off his hat trick to double his team’s lead.
Casey Bailey scored his 20th goal of the season with two minutes left, but it was too little too late. Michigan State killed off the remaining time and left the ice with the 3-2 win.
Player of the Game
Hildebrand, again. The Spartan goalie saved 40 out of 42 shots and almost single-handedly won the game for his team.
Tweet of the Game
— Penn State Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) February 15, 2015
- With P.J. Musico having been the starter for the last few weeks, Skoff’s return to the ice in this game went decently. He saved 37 out of 40 shots and gave his team a chance to win.
- Including the women’s team, Penn State hockey was held without a goal through the first three games of the weekend, and then through the first period of this game. When Varley broke the streak, it was much-needed relief for the offensively-gifted team.
- With the two regulation wins, Michigan State caught up to Penn State in the Big Ten standings. Penn State still has two series to play against Minnesota, the highest Big Ten team in the PairWise rankings. It’s still premature to call this sweep devastating, but the sweep sets Penn State back in the rankings at a very inopportune time in the season.
Next weekend, Feb. 20 and 21, Penn State will be back in Pegula Ice Arena to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers.