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No. 17 Penn State Men’s Hockey Drop Series Finale With No. 11 Michigan State 5-3

No. 17 Penn State men’s hockey (5-3-3, 0-1-3 Big Ten) concluded its series against No. 11 Michigan State (8-3-1, 3-0-1 Big Ten) with a physical, back-and-forth 5-3 loss.

Getting on the scoreboard early, Michigan State sprung in front with a goal in the first minute. Penn State thundered back with two of its own in the following five minutes off the sticks of Aiden Fink and Chase McLane. In the second period, the Spartans retook the lead with another two-goal run, but the Nittany Lions managed to knot the game back up at 3-3 with a late Dylan Lugris score. The third period was all Michigan State, though, as the Spartans closed the game with a dominant, two-goal final frame.

How It Happened

Head coach Guy Gadowsky shifted the lines slightly for game two of the series, choosing to field the gritty Chase McLane, Tyler Paquette, and Jacques Bouquot line for the opening draw. The familiar top pairing of Christian Berger and Tanner Palocsik took the blue line for the Nittany Lions while Liam Souliere got the nod at goalie, making his 64th start for Penn State. Trey Augustine guarded the sticks for the Spartans across the ice.

Michigan State didn’t waste any time welcoming Souliere to East Lansing. Just 30 seconds into the first period, Tanner Kelly found space on the right side of Penn State’s zone and fired the puck, beating the senior’s blocker to put the Spartans in front early.

Penn State found itself on the power play on the next sequence as Nash Nienhuis was called for a holding minor. The advantage unit was productive, creating five shots on goal, but couldn’t bury the puck.

As Neinhuis left the penalty box and the Spartans went to change lines, Aiden Fink stole possession at the blue line and waltzed into the slot undefended. He cashed in up close to set the score 1-1 with 16:59 to play in the first period.

The following play, Penn State earned another offensive zone face-off. McLane beat Karsen Dowart to send the puck to Berger at the blue line. The captain zipped the puck toward the net where McLane was waiting and deflected the shot just out of Augustine’s reach to push Penn State into the lead with a score of 2-1.

The Nittany Lions kept momentum through the next eight minutes of play, extending their lead in the shot column to 14-4.

Michigan State caught a break with 8:20 to play in the period, though, as defenseman Jimmy Dowd Jr. was called for a cross-check in the corner. After a lengthy review, the officials determined the play warranted a major penalty, ejecting Dowd and setting Penn State short-handed for five minutes.

The Spartan power-play struggled to get going early in the advantage, misfiring on multiple occasions. Penn State took advantage of the cold unit and locked down the zone to allow just one shot on net for the entire five-minute opportunity, returning to full strength without a fuss.

After the long penalty kill, the period expired quietly with Penn State leading 2-1.

Returning to the ice with an axe to grind, the Spartans tested Souliere again early in the second period. Joey Larson snuck the puck into the low slot with a cheeky toe drag, but Souliere’s trapper was too quick to beat.

Through the middle of the period, both sides struggled to gain the offensive zone. Aside from some fleeting chances on the wings, the puck refused to leave the neutral zone for long.

Michigan State broke the stalemate with 10:17 left in the middle frame. It set up a heavy screen in front of Souliere, giving Nicholas Muller more than enough goal to shoot at as he rounded the face-off circle. Souliere managed to get his blocker on the puck, but the shot had enough power to trickle in and tie the game at 2-2.

The game froze back over following the goal, returning to a slugfest defensive struggle. Through the next eight minutes, both sides combined for just five shots on goal.

Michigan State broke through once more, causing chaos at the goalmouth and overloading the defense. As the entire blue and white unit crashed toward Red Savage, he found an open Gavin O’Connell at the back door for a tap-in, go-ahead goal. The scoreboard now read 3-2 for the Spartans with 2:02 to play in the second period.

Not content with letting Michigan State take the lead into the third period, Penn State’s offense returned fire just over a minute later. Xander Lamppa opted for the usual dump in to enter the zone, but the puck took a friendly bounce off the back wall and fell right in front of the net. Ryan Kirwan teed up Dylan Lugris, who burned Augustine with a top-shelf finish. The period ended quickly afterward with the score set at 3-3.

Penn State took a penalty early in the third period, this one called on Jarod Crespo for hooking. The Nittany Lion penalty kill unit returned to the ice, missing two defenders on the bench to help the effort. It denied the Spartans a shot for a minute and 40 seconds down a player, but on its first shot on the power-play, Michigan State retook the lead off the stick of O’Connell.

The Nittany Lions created their first opportunity of the frame with 13 minutes to play as a pile of Spartan defenders in the crease hid the puck from Augustine. Shots from Paquette and Berger got swallowed up in traffic, though, and the chance was cleared away.

Michigan State kept the pressure up as the third period neared the 10-minute mark, setting up two two-on-ones in front of Souliere. The senior stumped the Spartans on both chances and bailed out his trailing defense.

Penn State earned its second power-play of the night as Daniel Russell was caught holding Crespo on the clear. Michigan State almost buried its second short-handed goal of the series, pickpocketing Souliere behind the net following a clear, but Souliere managed to get back to the cage in time to deny Neinhuis. The rest of the power-play was uninspired, the Nittany Lions unable to muster much in the way of goal-scoring chances as the Spartans returned to full strength.

Michigan State stayed on the offensive through the closing minutes of the third period, the clock vanishing as Penn State struggled to re-enter its offensive third. With 1:15 on the clock, a brouhaha behind the Nittany Lion goal erupted. Berger ended up getting sent to the penalty box for roughing, sealing the deal for the Spartans.

An empty net goal from Artyom Levshunov pushed the final score to 5-3 for Michigan State.

Takeaways

  • The Nittany Lions struggled to gain meaningful zone time after their initial two-goal surge early in the first period. A combination of solid defense from Michigan State and repeated misfires on the rush saw the blue and white kept out of the attacking third when it mattered most.
  • Penn State managed to edge out its opponent in face-offs 35-32, a feat that this year’s side hasn’t done often. Strong performances from Carson Dyck and Lamppa tonight will be a good building point for next week’s series.
  • Penn State played the majority of the night with a shortened bench following Dowd Jr.’s game misconduct. Already in injury trouble, following an overtime finish, and without an extra skater, the five remaining defenders were gassed by the third period. They stood strong but couldn’t outlast a fresher Spartan attack.

What’s Next?

Penn State will be back on the road next week, this time in Ann Arbor to face Michigan in a two-game series. The first game is set for Friday, November 17, with puck drop at 7 p.m.. The series will be streamed on BTN+.

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About the Author

Jack Scott

Jack is a junior industrial engineering major from Pittsburgh, PA. Sometimes, he enjoys the misunderstanding of his friends and family that Penn State Club Ski Racing may be a D1 sport and usually won't correct them. Jack is way too into Thundercat for his own good. Follow him on Twitter @joscottIV and Instagram @jackscott._iv

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