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No. 6 Penn State Hockey Bounces Back To Beat Michigan State 6-4

No. 6 Penn State hockey (7-2-0, 3-1-0 Big Ten) capped off its home series against Michigan State (3-5-0, 1-1-0 Big Ten) with a 6-4 victory on Saturday night.

Evan Barratt recorded a goal and an assist for the Nittany Lions, and Clayton Phillips also chipped in with his first goal with Penn State. Nikita Pavlychev, Sam Sternschein, Alex Limoges, and Denis Smirnov also found the back of the net for Guy Gadowsky’s team while Aarne Talvitie and Liam Folkes each added two assists.

Peyton Jones made 25 saves in the victory.

How It Happened

The beginning of Saturday’s game wasn’t as lopsided as Friday’s, but Penn State still got its chances. Connor McMenamin just missed out on his first NCAA goal after a nice deflection of a point shot, and Aarne Talvitie’s wrist shot leaked through Michigan State goalie John Lethemon before bouncing over the goal.

The Nittany Lions finally found a way to beat Lethemon 10:40 into the first period. Nikita Pavlychev fired a shot over the goalie’s glove from point-blank range to give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead. Talvitie and Kris Myllari picked up the assists on Pavlychev’s second of the year.

Evan Barratt doubled the Penn State lead with one of the nicest goals he’s ever scored. After the puck bounced off the back boards following a deflected shot by Evan Bell, the junior center flipped it up and batted it into the goal on his backhand with 3:36 to play in the first period. Liam Folkes recorded the primary assist by tipping the shot prior to Barratt’s second of the season.

Michigan State halved Penn State’s lead fewer than seven minutes into the middle frame. Mitchell Lewandowski blasted a one-timer beyond Peyton Jones’ glove-hand on the power play while Nikita Pavlychev was in the box for hooking.

Transfer defenseman Clayton Phillips, however, provided an instant reply for the Nittany Lions. He threw a puck on net from 60 feet away, and it found its way home thanks to a good screen in front of John Lethemon. Phillips’ first as a Nittany Lion was assisted by Liam Folkes just 74 seconds after Lewandowski’s goal.

Penn State scored a power play of its own with 8:32 to play in the second. A shot by Barratt hit Alex Limoges’ leg on its way into the back of the net to extend the lead to 4-1. Clayton Phillips picked up the secondary assist on the play. Aarne Talvitie found Sam Sternschein on a 2-on-1 rush four minutes later, and Sternschein extended Penn State’s lead to 5-1 with 4:27 to play in the middle frame.

Patrick Khodorenko scored a beauty of his own with 11 seconds left in the middle frame, so Penn State entered the final frame with a commanding 5-2 lead. Shots on goal were 24-17 in favor of the Nittany Lions after 40 minutes of play.

Not much went on for the first half of the third period — aside from Nikita Pavlychev catching a body by destroying Patrick Khodorenko along the boards — but Michigan State’s Dennis Cesana picked the corner and sniped a shot into the back of the net. Cesana’s third of the year cut Penn State’s lead to 5-3 with 7:51 left in the third.

Peyton Jones made a big save on Sam Saliba, who cut towards goal on a breakaway, with five minutes left in the third while the Spartans were on the power play. Khodorenko scored his second of the game and third of the weekend with 1:07 to play, but that’s as close as the Spartans would come.

Denis Smirnov sealed the Penn State victory with an empty-netter from 65 feet with 28.3 seconds to play.

Takeaways

  • The Alex Limoges-Evan Barratt-Liam Folkes line that routinely stuffed the stat sheet last year has been much quieter to start this season, but they were back in a big way on Saturday. The trio combined for two goals and three assists, and they were dominant in all three facets of the game.
  • Penn State torched Michigan State goalie John Lethemon after getting shut down by him and the Spartans’ defense on Friday night. Lethemon looked, you know, human by allowing five goals on 25 shots throughout Saturday’s contest. Guy Gadowsky was pleased with his team’s Friday performance — aside from finishing chances, obviously — but his players were back to their normal goal-scoring ways tonight.
  • Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Clayton Phillips notched his first goal for Penn State on Saturday night. He’s a beautiful skater who’s played really well in his first nine games as a Nittany Lion, and he was rewarded by having his seeing-eye shot from the point find a way home.

What’s Next

Penn State will hit the road for the first time this season next weekend for a two-game set against Minnesota. Puck drop is slated for 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

Mikey is a senior majoring in journalism and Onward State's Sports Editor. He grew up in Bedminster, NJ and is way too obnoxious about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is hard. If you're dying to see more hockey/golf content on your timeline, you can follow Mikey on Twitter @mikey_mandarino. Send all hate mail, death threats, and your vote for the best chicken parm in State College to [email protected]

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