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No. 16 Penn State Men’s Hockey’s Winless Streak Extends To Eight After 4-2 Loss To Michigan State

No. 16 Penn State men’s hockey (13-13-5, 6-10-5 Big Ten) lost 4-2 to Michigan State in East Lansing on Friday night, extending the team’s winless streak to eight games.

Nate Sucese and Nikita Pavlychev scored for the Nittany Lions, whose NCAA Tournament hopes took a big hit as a result of the game. Penn State could not stop the Spartans’ “KHL” line; Patrick Khodorenko, Taro Hirose, and Mitchell Lewandowski combined for seven points as the team improved to 11-18-2 on the season.

How It Happened

Penn State did not get off to the start it wanted tonight; Michigan State forward Brody Stephens streaked down the wing and scored his first NCAA goal just 2:15 into the game. Stephens’ shot snuck through Peyton Jones’ right pad on Michigan State’s first shot on target of the evening.

The Nittany Lions got themselves on the board after a fortuitous bounce off the back boards. Nate Sucese scored his 12th goal of the season 3:39 after the Spartans opened the scoring. Denis Smirnov intentionally put a wrist shot wide of goal prior to the goal, causing the puck to bounce right onto the sophomore center’s stick. Trevor Hamilton also picked up an assist on the goal.

Michigan State’s dynamic top line of Patrick Khodorenko, Taro Hirose, and Mitchell Lewandowski gave the Spartans their second lead of the game with just more than 11 minutes remaining in the first period. Lewandowski’s 16th goal of the season put the Spartans up 2-1 after taking a beautiful pass from Khodorenko.

Michigan State received the game’s first power play with 6:11 remaining in the first frame after an Andrew Sturtz trip. Despite plenty of scoring chances and some beautiful puck movement, the Spartans could not convert on the man advantage.

The Spartans went back to the power play 3:05 later following a Denis Smirnov slash. Peyton Jones made two huge saves early in the man advantage on the way to a second consecutive successful kill.

The first period ended with Penn State trailing by a goal. Michigan State also took a 14-7 advantage in shots on goal, controlling the action for most of the first 20 minutes of the game.

The Nittany Lions started the second period well, drawing a holding penalty 58 seconds into the frame. Denis Smirnov recorded the biggest chance of the power play on a set deflection play, but John Lethemon was there to smother it. Michigan State killed off the penalty, but not after three Penn State shots on goal.

Penn State returned to the power play at 8:53 of the second period; Damian Chrcek elbowed James Robinson behind the goal and was sent to the sin-bin as a result. The team’s power play unit moved the puck extremely well for most of the two minutes, but could not find the back of the net.

The Nittany Lions continued to pour on the chances in the later stages of the period, but their momentum was killed by a Trevor Hamilton kneeing penalty. Mitchell Lewandowski quickly converted on the ensuing power play, giving the Spartans a 3-1 lead with 5:34 remaining in the period.

Denis Smirnov took yet another two-minute minor during the first shift after the goal, sending the Spartans right back to the power play. The penalty kill bounced back with a strong effort to send the game back to full strength, but the two quick penalties killed any momentum the Nittany Lions gained earlier in the period.

Kris Myllari rang a dangerous shot off the post in the final minute of the second period. This play served as a good microcosm of what turned out to be an extremely frustrating period. Despite outshooting the Spartans 13-6 in the second, Penn State entered the final period with a two-goal deficit.

Michigan State did not sit back on its two-goal lead to start the final period of the game. The team recorded the first six shots of the period and was the aggressor during that time. Penn State’s first shot of the period came 5:57 into the frame on the power play.

The Spartans slowed down the pace of the game significantly throughout the third period, stifling Penn State’s potent offense in the process, but Penn State cut into its deficit with 3:02 remaining in the third period. Nikita Pavlychev banged in a rebound to make it 3-2 Michigan State heading into the home stretch of tonight’s game.

Taro Hirose deposited the puck into an empty net to end any hopes of a Penn State comeback bid as the Nittany Lions’ winless streak extended to eight games.

Player Of The Game

Nate Sucese | Sophomore | Center

Sucese opened the scoring for the Nittany Lions in the first period, depositing a rebound off the back boards past Michigan State goaltender John Lethemon.

What’s Next

Penn State will play its final away game of the 2017-18 regular season Saturday in game two of this weekend’s series. The puck drops at 5 p.m. right back at Munn Ice Arena.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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