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Penn State Hockey Falls To Michigan State 5-1 To Split Series

The Penn State hockey (4-6, 2-6 Big Ten) offense struggled for the second straight game as Michigan State (4-4-2, 3-4-1 Big Ten) defeated the Nittany Lions 5-1.

Alex Limoges scored the only goal of the game for Penn State. Jagger Joshua scored two goals and Gianluca Esteves, Brody Stevens, and Mitchell Lewandowski scored one each for the Spartans. Liam Souliere started for Penn State and made 16 saves and Drew DeRidder made 36 saves for the Spartans.

Penn State defenseman Clayton Phillips and Michigan State forward Charlie Combs were both ejected for separate major penalties in the second period.

How It Happened

The first high-quality chance of the game for the Nittany Lions came one minute into the first frame when Limoges slide a puck over to Tim Doherty but DeRidder, who has been one of the best goalies in the conference all year, made a good pad save. Michigan State would score the first goal of the game though when Joshua roofed a backhand shot past Souliere for the 1-0 lead a minute later.

Michigan State would extend the lead about three minutes later. Penn State almost buried a chance at one end before a stretch pass found Esteves and he fired a rocket past Souliere for the 2-0 lead. It was Souliere’s second goal allowed on only the Spartans’ fifth shot of the game.

Connor Mcmenamin had the best chance of the period for Penn State on a breakaway, but DeRidder stood tall again and saved his attempt with the crown of his helmet.

Penn State started to find its offensive footing at the start of the second period. Nothing came for the Nittany Lions until they were given another power play after Jake Smith was sent to the sin bin for holding six minutes into the period. It took just six seconds till a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play between Kevin Wall, Doherty, and Limoges found the back of the net off of Limoges’ stick. It cut Michigan State’s lead to 2-1.

Right after the power play, Phillips hit Lewandowski with a cross-check from behind into the boards, which resulted in an ejection for Phillips and a five-minute power play for Michigan State. The Spartans would take advantage of the long man advantage when Joshua deflected a Nash Neinhaus shot past Souliere for the 3-1 lead.

With four minutes left in the period, Charlie Combs was also ejected from the game after being called for checking Doherty in the head. It gifted Penn State its own five-minute power play and a great chance to get back into the game. Penn State hit the crossbar with just under a minute left in the period and the score remained 3-1 in favor of Michigan State after two periods. Penn State was outshooting the Spartans 24-18.

The five-minute man advantage carried over for the first 1:06 of the third period. Michigan State was able to kill off the remaining time, keeping Penn State off the board on the long man advantage. That would be the story of the third period, as the Spartan defense locked down and the Penn State offense went quiet.

The Nittany Lions did their best to get the puck past DeRidder, but the Spartans’ goaltender stood tall in net. The Spartans eventually found the dagger when Brody Stevens buried a shot past Souliere immediately after a faceoff for the 4-1 lead with around five minutes left in the game.

Souliere was sent to the bench for the extra attacker right after the Spartans’ fourth goal. Lewandowski buried the empty netter to make it 5-1 and kill off the game. Will Holtfoster saw his first action for the Nittany Lions late in the game, replacing Souliere for the final two minutes of the game. That would be the last notable action from the game, as the Spartans won the game 5-1.

Takeaways

  • Souliere got the start in this game and it was a little puzzling. Oskar Autio was the hot hand following an impressive 23-save shutout from the previous day. Guy Gadowsky seems to predetermine these decisions and his mind wasn’t swayed from the first game of the series. Souliere also continues to struggle, especially early in games.
  • The Penn State power play has been significantly better than at the start of the season, but not scoring on the elongated power play in the second period really hurt. It was a chance for the Nittany Lions to get back into the game, but it provided Michigan State with more of a momentum swing instead. The improved play of the penalty kill also needs to be mentioned. It’s not perfect but you can tell the players are understanding the system a lot better than earlier in the season.
  • Michigan State is a great defensive team, but Penn State needed to do better offensively in this series. Two goals in two games isn’t good enough. The offense looked stagnant and struggled to produce high-quality scoring chances against the Spartans. Outside of the nine-goal game versus Michigan, the offense hasn’t put up the traditional scoring numbers Penn State fans are used to. Losing six of your top seven scorers from last year hurts, but Penn State needs to put the puck in the back of the net.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will hop on a bus and travel to Columbus to face the Buckeyes on Friday. That time and broadcast location of that game are still yet to be determined.

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About the Author

Connor Donohue

Connor is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. He hails from the great state of New Jersey and is proud of it. Lover of the greatest city in the world, New York City, he strongly dislikes the city of Philadelphia and will not hesitate to tell you that. He's also been cursed as a Penn State fan since birth. If you want to call him a bum or maybe go out on a date with him, follow him on twitter @ConnorDonohue00 or email him at [email protected]

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