With the season riding on it, Penn State answered the call. Scoring early and often, Guy Gadowsky’s squad will move on to face Notre Dame. With a win, the Lions will gain the Big Ten Championship and a bid to the NCAA tournament in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The game was close, just a 2-0 lead for Penn State, when Peyton Jones stopped a potential short-handed breakaway goal. With ten seconds left on that same penalty, the Lions scored to take a 3-0 lead. The outcome could have hinged on that one save.
Jones made 31 saves along the way, coming up with one of his best performances of the season when his team needed it. He finally let one in while the Buckeyes skated 6 on 4 late in the game.
Coach Gadowsky spoke about the key to the defensive job that his team did on the day. “Great goal-tending helps. I think we’ve learned something about momentum and managing it. I think it’s not a matter of expecting that you’re not going to have a defensive lapse, it’s how you respond to it. When we were on our heels, they came back strong. So I don’t know if you are ever going to play a perfect game but it’s how you respond when there are those changes in momentum against you, and that’s what I thought was important tonight.”
How It Happened
The teams came out skating crisp and under control. The Buckeyes held the early edge in momentum and shots, then went on the first power-play when the Lions were called for too many men on the ice. The penalty was killed and along the way Peyton Jones had to make a couple of saves.
Penn State settled down and with Jones having shaken the rust off with 7 early saves, was ready to put pressure on the Buckeyes. An aggressive fore-check led to the first goal.
Alex Limoges caused a turnover in Ohio State’s zone and quickly centered the puck to Liam Folkes. Folkes wasted little time, faking left then finishing right into the vacated goal. Tommy Nappier had no choice but to react to the first movement as he was left all alone.
A few minutes later a defensive player made a save on a puck that got behind Nappier in the crease and would have crossed the goal line. The Lions forced a few more difficult saves and led 10-8 in shots on goal with three minutes to play in the opening period.
With time running out in the period Evan Barratt took a pass and got the puck across to Alex Limoges. With one second left, the puck dribbled through Nappier’s legs and into the goal. The Lions took a 2-0 lead to the first intermission.
Here’s a look at the two goals.
Here are the first period goals that got the Lions started. pic.twitter.com/Q5WKhmOWPS— Black Shoe Diaries (@BSDtweet) March 17, 2019
The second period was a torrent of offensive opportunities in the opening minutes. Each side had its chances but the puck stayed out of the net. Nate Sucese had a point-blank shot eight minutes in and then Limoges nearly scored on the next possession, the Lions holding the puck in the zone for over a minute, fatiguing the OSU skaters, but finally the Buckeyes cleared.
Adam Pilewicz took a hard shot to the head at the 9:58 mark right in front of the Penn State bench by Sasha Larocque. The referee’s looked at the hit and it was determined that it would be 5-minute major penalty. Pilewicz was able to continue to play, Larocque left for the rest of the game.
As a result, Ohio State was forced to skate with just 5 defenders for the remainder of the game. Peyton Jones made a great save on Mason Jobst, who nearly scored a short-handed goal. The Lions scored to stretch the lead to 3-0. Kris Myllari found Brandon Biro with ten seconds left on the 5-minute penalty.
Brandon Biro got the Lions a critical third goal in the second period on a great feed from Kris Myllari. pic.twitter.com/wKz7SdEH6d— Black Shoe Diaries (@BSDtweet) March 17, 2019
Tanner Laczynski was able to cut into the lead late in the second period but after the goal the referees took a long look to see whether the play was onside when the puck entered the zone. The goal was reversed and the home fans did not like it. After a break of over 5 minutes, it was determined that the Buckeyes did not have control of the puck before a skater had entered the zone.
With 2:15 left in the period, Dakota Joshua drew a penalty on his way toward Peyton Jones and the Lions were forced to skate short-handed. The penalty was killed and the teams went to the locker room.
The third period started as the second left off and both goalies were forced to make tough early saves. Nate Sucese fought for a puck and got a breakaway following a scoring chance by Ohio State. He finished the play to give the Lions a 4-0 lead and also turned the volume off inside of Value City Arena.
Nate Sucese made a great play for an unassisted goal to all but ice the game, gaining a 4-0 lead. He looked off the goalie, who was not very happy about being tricked after the play. pic.twitter.com/1F4jlulK1u— Black Shoe Diaries (@BSDtweet) March 17, 2019
The turn of events sucked any life that was left inside of the fans and while the Buckeyes continued to play hard, it became clear that time was on the Lions’ side.
Alex Limoges took a penalty with 6:23 to play, giving Ohio State one last push, pulling the goalie to gain a two-man advantage. At the end of the power-play, with Limoges just coming back on the ice, Ohio State scored to cut the lead to 4-1.
Jones made a save on a breakaway by Dakota Joshua with just over two minutes to play. Nikita Pavlychev took a penalty with 1:52 to allow the Buckeyes another 6 on 4 chance with the empty net. Nate Sucese fell when he crossed mid-ice but was able to get his stick on the puck, directing it into the net for the final goal of the game.