The game was well within Penn State’s reach. Trailing by just one midway through the second period, the Nittany Lions looked sharper than the previous night. Passes were connecting and chances were being created. All they needed was a break.
The Nittany Lions hope came crashing down as Tanner Laczynski went crashing into the end boards.
At the end of a Buckeyes odd-man rush, Blake Gober leveled Laczynksi, who went flying into the end boards and left the game clutching his shoulder. Gober was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
Ohio State scored twice on the ensuing power play, including Gustav Westlund’s eventual game winner, as the Buckeyes completed a weekend sweep of the Nittany Lions with a 6-4 win.
While one power play opportunity — even an extended one — doesn’t lose a game for any team, affording a team 10 over the course of the game severely impacts a team’s chances of winning. The Buckeyes scored four goals — all coming in the second period — en route to the victory.
The penalty kill wasn’t a complete disaster for the Nittany Lions, however. Evan Barratt and Ludvig Larsson netted shorthanded tallies that kept them in the game through two periods.
“It’s tough because they had four power play goals, so it’s hard to say we liked it,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “If we come back and win that game those would be huge plays. But when you talk about the penalty kill, you’re not on it to try to score shorthanded goals. You’re on it to kill it.”
Shortly after Larsson’s shorthanded goal on that five-minute penalty kill, Dakota Joshua put the Buckeyes back in front with a goal that shouldn’t have counted.
Gadowsky challenged the play as the Buckeyes were clearly offsides, but when the officials gathered to give Gadowsky an explanation on why the goal stood, they noted how there was a change of possession as Kevin Kerr swept the puck away from the net with his hand shortly before Joshua scored.
Before challenging the goal, however, Gadowsky specifically asked the officiating crew if such a play would qualify as a change of possession. After being told it wouldn’t, Gadowsky went ahead with the challenge.
Gadowsky also explained that the NCAA rule book states that a goal can not be challenged for offsides if there is a change of possession, meaning that Gadowsky should not have been able to challenge Joshua’s goal to begin with. To add insult to injury, losing the challenge also cost Penn State its timeout.
The whole scenario captured the nature of the weekend, as soft calls were made while more obvious ones were missed completely.
Nikita Pavlychev takes a shot to the head, no call. These refs are baaaaaaaaaaad. pic.twitter.com/z5CzOBc6xK— Patrick Burns (@PatrickBurns_) January 19, 2019
Regardless of how the penalties were distributed, the Nittany Lions let a winnable — and crucial — game slip through their hands by letting emotions get the best of them. Gadowsky still found a silver lining from the team’s performance on Saturday, notably how the team didn’t abandon the game when the calls weren’t going in its favor.
Trailing by two when the third period began, the Nittany Lions outshot the Buckeyes 19-7 in the final 20 minutes in a push to tie the game.
“They never pouted because they were getting the short end,” Gadowsky said. “I thought they kept on fighting, and for that I’m proud.”
How It Happened
Though the Nittany Lions appeared much stronger from the opening puck drop, the Buckeyes once again opened the scoring. After an odd-man rush failed for the Nittany Lions, the Buckeyes broke out on one of their own. Peyton Jones made the initial stop on Dakota Joshua, but the rebound bounced to Grant Gabriele, who blasted a shot past Jones.
Late in the period, Evan Barratt tied the game with an incredible solo effort. With the Nittany Lions shorthanded, Barratt picked up the puck in his own zone and went coast to coast, deked out Gordi Myer and tucked a shot between the legs of Tommy Nappier.
Evan Barratt shorty. Kid is so fun to watch. pic.twitter.com/ZysXPd6quq— Patrick Burns (@PatrickBurns_) January 19, 2019
Early in the second period, that line put the Nittany Lions in front. After Evan Barratt forced a turnover at the Ohio State blue line, Liam Folkes picked up the puck and picked the corner over Nappier’s blocker.
Shortly after, the Buckeyes made quick work of their third power play of the day. With Ludvig Larsson in the box for tripping, Dakota Joshua received a pass right beside the Nittany Lions net. Joshua’s cross-crease pass was broken up by Paul DeNaples. The puck bounced back to Joshua, who tucked into the net.
A few minutes later, a pair of marginal calls came back to bite the Nittany Lions. With Kris Myllari and Nate Sucese in the box for roughing and holding, respectively, Matt Miller fired a shot bar down on the Buckeyes’ 5-on-3 opportunity.
A few minutes later, the game took an ugly turn as Blake Gober launched Tanner Laczynski into the end boards. Laczynksi went to the Buckeyes locker room while Gober was issued a five minute major and game misconduct. On the ensuing Buckeyes’ power play, the Nittany Lions evened the game with another shorthanded goal.
Ludvig Larsson forced the puck out of the defensive zone and broke out on a 2-on-1 with Nate Sucese. The two combined for a give and go as Larsson finished off the play with his second goal of the weekend.
The Buckeyes responded a minute and a half later. After a few good stops by Jones, Joshua lifted a shot over the goalie’s outstretched pad. Gustaf Westlund added another power play goal shortly after, firing a shot through traffic and over the shoulder of Jones.
After the Nittany Lions had a number of quality chances denied early in the third period, the Buckeyes went up three as Mason Jobst threw a shot from the corner on net. Jones didn’t pick up the shot as it sailed over his shoulder and in.
The distaste between the two sides grew as seemingly every whistle drew a skirmish. Midway through the period, Chase Berger pulled the Nittany Lions within a pair shortly after a power play expired. Berger picked up the puck near the Buckeyes’ net and tried to feed the puck to the front. The puck popped up into the air and dropped behind Nappier, rolling into the net.