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Penn State Hockey Takes Down Michigan State, 4-2

In the opening game of Big Ten play, the Lions beat one of the nation's best goalies four times.

1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Penn State 0 4 0 4
Michigan State 0 0 2 2
Shots on Goal 1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Penn State 13 21 8
Michigan State 8 12 13 33

Penn State (9-2-3) came into Friday night's game with a 2-6 record against Michigan State over the past two seasons. Part of the problem for the Lions when facing MSU was reigning Big Ten Player of the Year and All-American goalie Jake Hildebrand. After a first period that resembled the previous eight contests between the teams thanks to a slow pace and few quality shots, Penn State was able to open it up in the second period.

Scoring four goals in the second frame, the Lions chased Hildebrand from the game. The Nittany Lions played an uneven third period, as they allowed two soft goals, but those would ultimately not matter.

The teams will play the series finale in Pegula Ice Arena on Saturday at 3 p.m.

First Period

The period began with each team skating sharp and with purpose. There were even a few shots that threatened to score through the first eight minutes, but neither team was able to get on the scoreboard. Penn State went on a power play midway through the period but was unable to set up in the offensive zone and the Spartans killed the penalty with ease.

It was clear that both teams were playing a very guarded style, neither wanting to make the first mistake. While the first half of the period was a free-flowing pace, the next five minutes were marred by a whistle nearly every time down the ice.

Penn State got hot toward the end of the frame, controlling the final minute of play while keeping the puck in its offensive zone. With 30 seconds remaining in the period, Ricky DeRosa got off a great wrist shot but Hildebrand used his blocker to turn it away. With 10 seconds to go in the frame, Erik Autio let a shot go from the point that got all the way to Hildebrand without the goalie seeing it, but the puck hit him squarely in the chest for the no-look save. Time ran out with a feeling that the Lions found a rhythm that they could build on.

Second Period

Ten seconds into the period, Andrew Sturtz made a great play. Alec Marsh chipped the puck behind the net and Hildebrand made a mistake, playing the puck at the boards but not getting set back in the crease in time to defend the shot. Sturtz took the puck from behind the net and beat Hildebrand with a quick shot before he could react. The goal sent the crowd at the Peg into a frenzy, and was the seventh time this year that Sturtz found the back of the net.

With 14 minutes left in the period and Penn State owning the advantage in scoring chances, MSU defenseman John Draeger went to the locker room with an injury. He quickly returned to the game, but while he was unavailable, it left the Spartans with only four defensemen.

The Lions went on the power play with nine minutes left in the period. Travis Walsh of MSU was called for cross checking when he hit David Goodwin. The Lions dominated the first minute with the man advantage but were unable to score. With just under a minute remaining in the frame, Goodwin avenged the penalty that he took when he poked the puck past Hildebrand for a power play goal. Kenny Brooks and Luke Juha were credited with assists on the play.

At one point both teams were called for a penalty and the teams skated 4-on-4. After they expired, Sturtz made another great play for his second goal of the game. On a turnover in the neutral zone, David Glen tapped the puck ahead to Sturtz, who took the puck and made two fakes before beating the keeper.

Moments later, Sturtz put another shot on goal that Hildebrand was able to stop, but the rebound went out to Vince Pedrie and the freshman defenseman scored his second goal of the season. Sturtz and Glen got the assists on the play.

Third Period

Ed Minney took over in net for Hildebrand to start the final period for the Spartans.

MSU nearly scored 90 seconds into the period when Travis Walsh hit the post on a shot from the point, which nearly broke the streak of seven consecutive periods without allowing a goal for Penn State. The Lions initially came out for the third period skating a little flat.

Kenny Brooks took a penalty for Penn State five minutes into the period. Brooks finished a check hard shortly after the Spartans took out goalie Matt Skoff on a scoring attempt. The Lions used the penalty to kill another two minutes of clock, marking the 16th straight penalty kill for Penn State's special teams unit.

With twelve minutes left in the game, Villiam Haag of Michigan State took a penalty and PSU used the time to pepper the goal with quality shots. The Lions went on another power play a few minutes later and again failed to score.

With six minutes left, Michigan State finally got on the board when Thomas Ebbing scored an unassisted goal on a turnover by Pedrie. MSU added a second goal in garbage time when Ryan Keller beat Matt Skoff with a smooth wrist shot.

While Penn State coasted to the finish, it didn't end up costing the team in this game. With the 4-2 win, the Nittany Lions improved to 9-2-3 on the season.