Penn State wins the series on the road, in conference, against a team that was ranked in the top-12 in both the USCHO.com poll and PairWise at the time. The Lions will get a win and a tie as it pertains to the PairWise rankings, which determine the field for the NCAA tournament. For Big Ten purposes, with the shootout win on Friday, Penn State got two points and three for the win on Saturday.
To return to State College with five points puts the Lions in good position heading into the final series before the long break. Penn State will play a home and away series with Robert Morris next weekend before it goes on break until after the New Year.
While it is early in the season, we are approaching the midway point in terms of games played. With early struggles in net for Peyton Jones that are now a thing of the past and the return of Kevin Kerr and Denis Smirnov, the team is firing on all cylinders heading into the break. With the ups and downs of the first semester, nothing has been lost for the team.
With the three points Penn State moves into second place in the Big Ten standings. There are games to be played later in the evening and next weekend, but for the moment the Lions are in a good spot. The team has already taken the three in-conference road trips to the teams that are currently ranked higher in the PairWise Rankings (Notre Dame, Minnesota, and Ohio State.)
It’s early in the season and the standings will wiggle upward and downward on a nightly basis, but at the time of the win the Lions moved up to No. 13 in the PairWise Rankings.
The story of the game was defense. Each team showed a commitment to blocking shots and the goalies on both sides played great games. Peyton Jones played solid in net for the Lions, turning away shots 33 shots for the shutout.
After a sharp game the night before the teams got out to a sluggish start, with neither side able to muster a quality scoring chance in the first few minutes. The stadium in Columbus was nearly empty as the Buckeyes were set to play in the Big Ten football championship later in the night, contributing to the complacent feel in the arena and on the ice.
The first shot on goal came eight minutes in for the Buckeyes and off the rebound Denis Smirnov took the puck the other way and got the first shot for the Lions. Midway through the first period each side had three shots on net as the competition began to heat up a little bit at that point.
While there were not a great deal of shots in the early-going the quality of scoring chances was high. Peyton Jones was forced to make a save when multiple PSU defensive players allowed a pass and point-blank range shot to get to Jones cleanly. After the play, Jones talked it over with the defense.
A few minutes later Ohio State went on the first power-play of the day. The Lions were able to kill the penalty without allowing a shot on goal. The opening period had a combined shots on goal of 13 following a performance on Friday where the teams combined for 40 shots in the first period.
While the atmosphere was relaxed and the shots on goal were few, it had a lot to do with the defense on both sides. There was a great deal of resistance in the neutral zone and in the scoring zone, players on each side routinely got in the way of the puck before it could reach the goalie.
Less than a minutes into the second period Penn State was called for its second penalty of the game. Andrew Sturtz scored a short-handed goal to get the zeros off the board. Sturtz took advantage of a turnover and then finished the play.
The Lions killed the penalty moments later. Just a couple of minutes later Nate Sucese was called for interference and OSU had the third power-play of the game. Ohio State was called for interference during the advantage and the teams skated 4 on 4.
When the penalty for the Lions ended there was a brief power-play in their favor. Denis Smirnov did not take long to cash it in.
Peyton Jones continued to make solid saves between the pipes for the Lions, preserving the lead to the midway point in the game while stopping 20 shots through thirty minutes. Here’s a couple of saves in the second period.
With four minutes left before the second intermission the Lions went on their first full power-play of the day. OSU was able to kill the penalty and the teams went to the break with the game 2-0 in favor of Penn State.
A couple of minutes into the final period the Buckeyes committed another penalty but the Lions could not score with the advantage. With fifteen minutes to play Brandon Biro extended the lead to 3-0.
The shots on goal were in favor of Penn State 29-25 at the time of the goal. After a slow start, Guy Gadowsky’s team recovered and was able to get shots in on Sean Romeo, who played a solid game in goal for OSU.
With 8 minutes left to play Penn State was called for a penalty and OSU elected to make it a 6 on 4 situation, pulling Romeo. The Lions killed the penalty and Romeo came back into the game with six minutes to play.
Here is one critical save made by Jones during the moment.
The game was put on ice a couple of minutes later when Liam Folkes took the puck into the zone, paused, and put the puck into the back of the Ohio State net. It was the sixth goal of the season for Folkes.
Evan Barratt was called for a penalty with less than two minutes to play and the Buckeyes got the man advantage to finish the game. OSU kept Romeo in net, electing not to gain the two-man power-play. The Lions were able to hold on the penalty kill for the fifth time on the day.