Penn State (20-8-2) completed a much-needed sweep of Michigan State. The win solidifies the team’s chances of making the NCAA tournament as an at-large team. The Lions currently hold the No. 9 PairWise ranking. With an OSU loss to Michigan earlier in the day, the Lions move into third place in the Big Ten regular-season standings.
The win marks the second time in program history that the team has gained 20 wins in a season. With at least five games remaining this year, it is easy to believe that the team will surpass the program record of 21 set a year ago.
The first period was marked by seven combined penalties on the teams as both sides struggled with discipline. Nate Sucese scored two goals in the opening period among the tumult. Denis Smirnov tied Casey Bailey’s single-season scoring mark at Penn State with a goal of his own in the first period. Penn State held a comfortable 3-0 cushion as the teams went to the first intermission.
The second period centered around a questionable hit by Mason Appleton on Penn State’s Vince Pedrie. Appleton was given a penalty but not a game misconduct. For the final ten minutes of the period following the hit, the teams swapped clean but merciless hits.
The final period saw each team score a goal but little else meaningful action.
Penn State will take on Wisconsin next weekend in the final series of the season at the Pegula Ice Arena in Hockey Valley.
Through the first ten minutes of the game the teams skated evenly. A pair of penalties, one for each team, came and went without a score. With 8:41 remaining in the first period, David Goodwin took a great breakout pass from Vince Pedrie and hustled to the other side of the ice. Goodwin held up and waited once crossing into the offensive zone for Nate Sucese to move in front of the goalie for a pass. The play worked smoothly and the Lions had an early 1-0 lead.
A few minutes later Denis Smirnov was called for a penalty for the second time in the game, which is uncharacteristic for the freshman Big Ten scoring leader. The Lions were able to kill off the penalty and went on the power-play of their own. Smirnov scored a power-play goal to atone for his sin-bin time, his seventeenth goal of the season. The point gave Smirnov a total of 40 for the year, good for a tie with Casey Bailey for the all-time single-season points record at Penn State. Erik Autio and Vince Pedrie assisted on the goal.
Nate Sucese scored for the second time in the closing moments of the period, giving PSU a much-deserved 3-0 cushion heading into the first intermission. The Lions put out the effort needed to gain a healthy lead, setting the tone for the remainder of the game, and were rewarded handsomely for it.
With 9:04 left in the second period Vince Pedrie took a horrible hit by Michigan State’s Mason Appleton, a shot from behind to the head. The referees stopped the game to review the play on video. Appleton was only given a two-minute penalty but was the target of Penn State’s ire for the remainder of the game. Pedrie was able to join the power-play squad, no worse for the wear, moments later.
The game was very physical before the Appleton hit but the teams turned up the hitting following the incident. The players were able to keep the play legal, but it was scary watching a team that has a crucial series with Wisconsin at home next week enter into so many battles. There were many chances for players to get hurt or gain a penalty that could include a suspension next week. By the end of the second period the players settled down without a serious incident.
Ten minutes into the final period each team was given a penalty for roughing. The Spartans took advantage, as Villiam Haag got the goal to cut the lead to 3-1 while the teams skated 4 on 4. Later in the power-play, Andrew Sturtz answered to get the Lions back to a more comfortable 4-1 lead. Following the goal, Michigan State had the referees review the play to check to see if Penn State was offside on the play. After reviewing the play, the goal stood.
Stars of the Game
First Star- Nate Sucese, Penn State. 2 goals.
Second Star- Vince Pedrie, Penn State. 2 assists.
Third Star- Peyton Jones, Penn State. Win, 22 saves.
Check out the Plays of the Game
Check out the highlights as we complete the series sweep of MSU with 4-1 road victory! #WeAre #HockeyValley https://t.co/fvKK56tFid— Penn State Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) February 26, 2017