On Friday night, Penn State’s shining moments came in the opening moments against Michigan State, highlighted by a pair of goals barely two minutes into the game. Saturday night, however, the Nittany Lions made fans wait until the final minute of the game to rise from their seats.
With just 33.6 seconds to play, Trevor Hamilton netted the tying goal as the Lions and Spartans played to a 2-2 tie. The Spartans picked up an extra point in the Big Ten standings by virtue of winning a three-round shootout.
After a scoreless first period, Evan Barratt finally opened the scoring with just over seven minutes remaining in the secon period. After a number of chances in front of the Spartans net, Brett Murray sent a centering pass to Barratt, who shoved a half-speed shot on goal that snuck through John Lethemon for the freshman’s fourth goal in as many games.
The Spartans responded quickly, however. As Peyton Jones left the net to play the puck on a Spartans dump in, he tripped on the net as his pass went to Spartans forward Patrick Khodorenko, who quickly found Taro Hirose in the slot. The sophomore forward hammered in a one timer to draw his team even at one.
Just two minutes later, the Spartans took their first lead of the night. Jones made a right pad save on a point shot by Austin Kamer, but the rebound caromed directly to Spartans defenseman Carson Gatt, who wristed a shot into an open net as Jones dove to make a desperation save.
The Lions maintained pressure on the Spartans throughout the final 20 minutes of regulation, outshooting the opposition 17-7 in the third period. While Gadowsky did not admit to it, he hinted the team may have grown frustrated with some questionable officiating that saw a pair of power plays be taken away from the Lions due to embellishment calls.
“I thought the crowd did a good job of speaking for us,” Gadowsky said following the game. “They’re a smart crowd.”
Gadowsky pulled Jones for an extra attacker with two minutes to play. After countless chances to tie the game with the extra man, the Lions finally broke through as the clock wound down to the final half minute.
Off an offensive zone faceoff, the Lions forced the puck to the front of the net. While the initial scramble was kept out by the Spartans, Andrew Sturtz gathered the puck and wheeled to the point, sending a pass to Kevin Kerr.
The junior defenseman, in just his second game back from an injury, side-stepped a sliding Hirose and sent a wrist shot toward the net. Kerr’s initial shot was blocked, and dropped right to Hamilton’s stick. The senior defenseman sent a backhand shot on goal that found the top corner of the cage.
“Luckily I got a stick on [Kerr’s] shot and it just layed there for me,” Hamilton said of the goal. “I kind of just threw it on my backhand to the net, hopefully for a rebound or even a goal and luckily it went in.”
Despite the crowd in front of the net, Hamilton watched the puck float into the top corner of the net. While the goal is vivid, the celebration that followed is a bit more blurred.
“I just kind of blacked out,” Hamilton said.
While the goal gave the Lions a crucial point in the Big Ten standings, they missed out on an extra point by losing the shootout 2-1. Sturtz scored on the opening shot of the skills competition, but a pair of Spartans goals and clutch saves by Lethemon secured the extra point for Danton Cole’s squad.