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Penn State Falls 4-3 To Ohio State

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The Nittany LIons settled for a weekend split with the Buckeyes.

Heather Weikel | Black Shoe Diaries

Goals By Period

Team 1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Team 1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Ohio State 1 2 1 x 4
Penn State 1 2 0 x 3

Guy Gadowsky often preaches about how random hockey can be. With the randomness of goalies, officials and a rubber puck bouncing around, even the best performance can be hindered by a hot goalie or mental errors.

While that can make assessing his team’s performance difficult, there are a couple statistics Gadowsky refers to when needed — faceoffs and odd-man rushes. In Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Ohio State, Penn State was on the wrong side of both.

It may seem like an obvious correlation, but when the Nittany Lions are on the wrong side of either, their game is severely impacted.

Given that faceoffs appear on the final stat sheet, keeping track of odd-man rushes can be a more difficult task. Assessing Penn State’s complete performance without the puck, however, it becomes clear how the Buckeyes were able to build such quality attacks.

“I think we were giving up the blue line worse than we have all year. Obviously, we got beat one-on-one a few times that really cost us,” Gadowsky said. “I don’t think we were, as a team, defensively, as good as we’ve been earlier this year.”

The Nittany Lions struggled to pressure the puck carrier in all three zones. It didn’t seem to be for lack of effort, however. Much of that hinged on the Buckeyes using short, crisp passes to keep distance between themselves and the Nittany Lions, allowing the Buckeyes to build speed through the neutral zone and maintain possession in the offensive zone.

“I just think we got outworked all over the ice tonight,” captain Brandon Biro said.

The Nittany Lions were also worked in the faceoff circle, with the Buckeyes holding a 42-32 edge. Though the importance of faceoffs has diminished with growing popularity of advanced statistics, Gadowsky still places quite a bit of importance on them. With how reliant the Nittany Lions are on puck possession to have success, it’s hard to blame him.

“I think it’s an important stat. I know some analytics guys don’t,” he said. “I’d rather certainly start the shift having the puck than chasing it and it seemed we were chasing a lot.”

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions opened the scoring midway through the first period. As CJ Regula carried the puck behind the Ohio State net, Alex Limoges picked his pocket and quickly fed Liam Folkes at the back door for an easy one timer.

The Buckeyes responded late in the period with the teams skating 4-on-4. After receiving a pass at the Penn State blue line, Tanner Laczynski danced around Denis Smirnov and roofed a shot past Peyton Jones to level the game at one.

Early in the second period, Evan Barratt put the Nittany Lions back on top. After Evan Bell’s point shot took a lively bounce off the boards, Barratt whacked in the rebound before Nappier could recover.

Midway through the period, Quinn Preston leveled the game at two with a power play tally. Preston received a stretch pass from Nappier and picked the corner over Jones’ blocker.

Just a couple minutes later, Gordi Myer split a pair of Nittany Lions and fired a shot glove side on Jones to give Ohio State its first lead of the night.

Just over three minutes later, Brandon Biro leveled the game at three just three seconds into Penn State’s third power play of the night. Right off the faceoff, Biro deflected Denis Smirnov’s shot past Nappier.

Late in the third period, Gustaf Westlund gave the Buckeyes the lead as he chipped a shot from the slot that eluded Jones.