No. 1 Penn State (16-3-2) was not able to take advantage of its early chances and as a result, found itself down a couple of goals late in the game to No. 13 Ohio State.
Ohio State scored three consecutive goals following a Penn State tally in the early going.
David Thompson and Kris Myllari, each viewed as defensive-minded blue-liners, provided the first two goals for Penn State. Andrew Sturtz, the team’s goal-scoring leader, provided the third to tie the game heading into the third period.
Early in the final period Penn State allowed two fast, strange goals and were down 5-3 with 18 minutes left to play. The momentum swing could be heard inside of Pegula Ice Arena, as the fans sat stunned for a few minutes. The Lions continued to fight but were never able to cut into the lead.
Ohio State added another goal late and the home stadium was as quiet as it has been this season. It was a very demoralizing loss to a fellow conference contender. The loss will knock the Lions down a few pegs in the PairWise rankings, but the team should remain in the top-five. With a great deal of hockey left to play, the young up and coming squad will have time to regroup before it plays its next conference game in two weeks of the road versus Minnesota.
Penn State will play Princeton next Saturday in Philadelphia in the final non-conference game of the regular season.
David Thompson got Penn State on the board with less than three minutes off the clock. It was Thompson’s first ice time in over a month, and the senior defenseman took advantage of his opportunity.
Ohio State went on the power play but Penn State killed it off easily and the teams resumed 5 on 5 skating with twelve minutes remaining in the first period. After ten minutes were played the Lions had a 6-3 advantage in shots on goal, the pace was noticeably more controlled than in game one on Friday night.
With 8:10 on the clock John Wiitala took a turnover by Kevin Kerr at the Penn State blue line and went the length of the ice, scoring a breakaway goal past PSU goalie Peyton Jones. Just like that the teams were tied, after the Lions dominated the majority of the first half of the period.
With 3:11 to play, Vince Pedrie took a tripping penalty and the Buckeyes went on the power play for the second time. Andrew Sturtz made a very admirable move while short-handed, holding the puck in the OSU zone alone for a while. At the end of the play, Sturtz got caught trailing, leaving PSU short two players. Mason Jobst made that mistake hurt, when he took the puck in on Jones, scoring through the legs of the big freshman goalie. Moments later Jones made a critical save with time running out, holding OSU from scoring what could have been a demoralizing additional late goal.
After an evenly played period, the Lions trailed 2-1.
Just 18 seconds into the second period, Dakota Joshua extended the OSU lead when he took the puck off his own rebound and put it past Jones. The goal quieted the crowd inside Pegula Ice Arena.
The whistle that blew following the goal was the only stoppage in play until 7 minutes later, when Kris Myllari scored to cut the lead to 3-2. The continuous action was fun to watch, as the teams went back and forth down the ice quickly, playing at a very high level.
With 9:50 left in the second period Denis Smirnov was the victim of one of the most vicious cheap-shot hits that has occurred during a PSU hockey game dating back to the Scott Conway incident at Minnesota in 2015.
Kevin Miller elbowed Smirnov, far removed from the play, while the freshman scoring star was not looking. It was a 5-minute interference penalty, but inexplicably was not accompanied by a game or more misconduct, and the Lions went on the power play. Penn State was unable to score with the extended one-skater advantage. It’s likely that the Big Ten conference will impose its own additional game-disqualification for Miller, but that won’t change anything for Penn State. Miller was allowed to play the remainder of the game.
With time running out in the period, Andrew Sturtz scored a huge goal, with a very small angle. It was a play that will be seen in the Plays of the Week for the next few days. The goal energized the crowd at the Peg, and the level of enthusiasm was back to what it was the night before, when it was off the charts. The period ended with the teams knotted at 3 apiece.
Sturtz goes no angle, off the dome & in for a goal late in the 2nd! @Buccigross how's this for an #SCTop10 nomineehttps://t.co/5l4Bo8bJLF— Penn State Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) January 22, 2017
Matthew Weis scored just 38 seconds into the final period and once again the crowd inside the arena went quiet, negating the home-ice advantage. Ohio State took a 4-3 lead.
Luke Stork scored to take the lead to 5-3 and the onlooking blue and white fans were stunned. Less than two minutes into the third period, the game went from tilting toward the Lions to a two-goal deficit.
The Lions continued to fight on the ice, and soon the fans had something to cheer about as the home team went on a power play with 14:34 on the clock. Unable to take advantage, PSU was trailing by 2 with ten minutes left in the game and very little momentum.
The teams fought back and forth for the next several minutes, with the Lions having plenty of chances to make a comeback. Instead, the Buckeyes put the game on ice when Christian Lampasso scored to take the lead to 6-3 and that is how the game ended.
Stars of the Game
First Star- Mason Jobst, Ohio State. 1 goal and 1 assist.
Second Star- Christian Frey, Ohio State. Win, 41 saves.
Third Star- Chase Berger, Penn State. 2 assists.