The Nittany Lions took the lead 43 seconds into the game, but despite dominating for most of the 60 minutes, Penn State came away with a 2-1 loss to Michigan State Saturday afternoon. The Spartans put up just 13 shots in three periods, five total through the first two frames alone, but came out on top with a victory in front of 6,140 fans in Pegula Ice Arena.
Defenseman Patrick Koudys put up his second goal of the season for Penn State’s fastest score in the young history of Pegula Ice Arena while Matt Skoff started his third straight game in net for the Nittany Lions.
Michigan State threw down 25 blocked shots in the game and the ones that weren’t blocked were stopped by Spartan goaltender Jake Hildebrand, his second start against Penn State over the weekend and his fourth against the Nittany Lions this season.
“Their team did a great job blocking shots,” Coach Guy Gadowsky said. “They’re probably the best shot blocking that team we’ve played this year so give them a lot of credit.”
A dominating first period started on the back of Penn State defenseman Koudys. The red shirt junior gave the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead less than a minute into the game on a left point shot that bounced through traffic in front of Michigan State’s Hildebrand and made its way in past the unsuspecting Spartan goaltender.
The Nittany Lions took over the first frame from there, putting their sticks in the Michigan State passing lanes and disrupting their entrance into the Penn State defensive zone. A good, aggressive penalty kill helped when captain Tommy Olczyk went to the box at 7:25 for hooking and Penn State goalie Skoff made just three saves through the first 20 minutes.
Just past the midway point of the second period, the Spartans tied the game 1-1 on only their fourth shot of the game. Off a Penn State turnover, Joe Cox shot the puck on net that seemed to deflect off a Penn State player’s skate in front of Skoff before the goaltender could stretch the left pad over to stop the tricky tip-in. The goal came at 10:19 of the second period and is Cox’s sixth goal of the season.
A 4-on-4 started the third period, after Michigan State’s John Draeger went to the penalty box for two minutes for hitting after the whistle then 22 seconds later David Goodwin took a slashing penalty to even the players on the ice. Lee Reimer had a breakaway on the 4-on-4 for the Spartans but Skoff stopped the Michigan State chance high.
Michigan State finally jumped into double digits for shots with less than eight minutes left in the game. On the Spartan’s twelfth shot of the game with 5:04 to play, Matt Berry put home a backhander from the slot in front for the 2-1 lead just over Skoff’s left shoulder, who didn’t see the shot with bodies in front. Penn State rallied and pulled the goaltender with just over a minute to play, but could not stash home a tying score.
“I thought we played pretty well defensively, we didn’t give up a ton. We felt pretty good about that part of our game,” Gadowsky said. “We had our fair share but we weren’t putting the puck in the net. Credit Hildebrand, he obviously played very, very well.”
Hildebrand stopped 28 of Penn State’s 29 shots through the three periods of play. On the other end of the ice, Skoff held off 11 of the Spartan’s 13 shots on net.
“You certainly can’t blame him. I thought he played well,” Gadoswky said of Skoff. ” I don’t think he let in any of the goals he that shouldn’t have. You can’t blame him tonight.”
The tie and the loss over the weekend puts Penn State’s record at 5-19-2 (1-10-1 Big Ten). The team travels to Michigan next weekend to play Friday night, February 21, at 6:30 p.m. then Saturday night the 22nd at 7:30 p.m.. Friday’s game will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network while Saturday’s game will go local on FS Detroit.