Normally the talented Mary Clarke gets to handle the weekend hockey recap, and she will be checking in with the women’s wrap up from their series at Syracuse later this week. However, with the men’s squad playing at Michigan State, a short 60 minute trek from my home, I made the drive up I-96 to take in Saturday’s game in person, and usurp the weekend recap duties from Mary.
The Nittany Lions fell 5-3 to the Spartans on Friday evening, a back and forth game that saw the Lions trail 2-0 early in the 2nd period, before Tommy Olczyk scored shorthanded to pull the Lions to within 1. Taylor Holstrom would tie things up for PSU at 14:48, starting a wild 90 seconds of action that saw MSU retake the lead at 15:58, and David Glen tying it back up again just 24 seconds later at 16:12. The key play of the game came when freshman defenseman Connor Varley was whistled for a 5 minute major checking from behind penalty, as well as a game misconduct at 12:24 of the 3rd period. MSU would take advantage of the extended power play time, scoring what proved to be the game winner at 14:17. Coach Gadowsky would pull goaltender Matthew Skoff late looking for the Lions’ third tying goal of the day, but it was not to be. The Spartans scored into the empty PSU net with just 16 seconds left to provide the final margin. PSU was outshot 32-20. All told, 9 Nittany Lions collected a single point.
Saturday’s series finale started off in much the same way, with the Spartans going up 2-0 just 6:21 into the game, taking advantage of a shaky start for Skoff in the goal. The 2nd period would open with Penn State on the power play, still down 2-0, when Mark Yannis pulled one back just 32 seconds into the period, finding the entire MSU net empty on a rebound in the slot. PSU would control the majority of the period with an aggressive forecheck, but were unable to get another puck behind MSU goaltender Jake Hilderbrand until early in the 3rd period. At 3:13, a deflected centering pass found Casey Bailey with enough time to pick out the lower corner to tie the game up. Both teams tightened up their defense, until the PSU forecheck forced a turnover, that ultimately found Bailey on the half wall, where he fed a streaking Taylor Holstrom, who went in 1 on 1 with Hilderbrand, and beat the MSU netminder on a nifty backhander under the pad with just over 4:00 left in the game. The PSU defense, and Skoff, made that 3-2 scoreline stand up, giving the Lions their 2nd win of the year over a future Big 10 conference opponent. Bailey lead the Lions with 3 points (1g, 2a), while Holstrom added 2 (1g, 1a) and Skoff saved 31 of the 33 MSU shots. For the game, the Lions held a 50-33 advantage in shots on goal.
Penn State returns to action next Friday in Hershey for an exhibition against former ACHA rival Ohio, and again Saturday in the Greenberg Ice Pavilion. Saturday’s contest could mark the final meeting between PSU and the Bobcats, two of the dominant programs in the ACHA.
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