After losing the first five games of the season, Penn State has pulled to within one game of .500 on a 6-2 streak. At 6-7 on the year, the Lions are within striking distance for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid, so the early struggle is now in the rear-view mirror.
Michigan State did enough to win the game and so did the Lions. Drew DeRidder is having a tremendous season in net for the Spartans and without his effort the game would have been more like 6-2 in Penn State’s favor. Oskar Autio played well on the other side of the ice, allowing just two goals that deflected off players and then into the net.
Penn State dominated the first period but Michigan State tied the game in the second period and then took a lead that they held until there was just 1:10 left on the game clock. With the goalie pulled on the far side of the ice, the Lions tied the game at two apiece. On the first possession for either team during the overtime session, Alex Limoges took a Tim Doherty pass to complete the comeback.
Doherty had a play-maker on the day, assisting on all three Penn State goals. Limoges had 2 assists to go with his game-winning goal and the captain skated with authority all night.
The teams will play the second game of the series on Saturday at 3 p.m. The game will be streamed on BTN+.
How It Happened
The Lions came out with a sense of urgency from the start of the game. Facing a team that would prefer to play a low-scoring game, Guy Gadowsky’s squad tried to force the issue early. The Spartans were able to hold stride for the opening minutes but finally Penn State’s offensive push became too much to contain.
Tim Doherty and Alex Limoges took advantage of an errant clearing attempt, taking the puck down low and then Doherty held on to give Christian Sarlo a chance to get his stick ready for the pass.
With five minutes to play in the opening period goalie Oskar Autio made a great save to preserve the one-goal lead. The Lions led 12-4 in shots on goal but a turnover right in front of Autio nearly evened it up.
Penn State went on the first power play of the game a minute later and then again shortly after the first penalty expired, another was called on the Spartans. The 5 on 4 play allowed the team to hold the puck in their offensive zone until the closing minutes of the opening period.
Thirty seconds of the penalty time carried over to the second period but the Lions were not able to increase their lead. Four minutes into the frame a short-side goal got past Autio over his blocker. After dominating the first 25 minutes, Penn State had nothing to show for the effort.
Autio made some nice saves to keep the game tied as the Lions continued to keep the pressure on Michigan State as well. The Spartans went on their first power-play midway through the game but were not able to score.
The tempo was fast, favoring the Lions, but goalie Drew DeRidder made multiple saves that could have easily been goals. With 3 minutes to go before the final period DeRidder had 29 saves.
Just seconds into the third period a fluke goal got past Autio. A centering pass from behind the net by Michigan State, headed to no one, went off the skate of Aarne Talvitie, then into the net over Autio’s shoulder.
With 15 minutes to play Autio faced a quick 3 on 1 but was able to make a save and then smack the rebound to the corner with his blocker. A couple of minutes later the Lions went on a penalty kill. Tim Doherty had a short-handed breakaway but DeRidder held solid to hold the lead.
The Lions continued to get scoring opportunities but it was Michigan State that nearly got the next goal. Alex Stevens shattered his stick on a slap-shot from the blue line and then was left, without a stick, to defend a 2 on 1 break the other way. Some nice help after the initial save by Autio kept the puck out of the net.
With 4:39 to play and time already becoming an issue, the Lions went on the penalty kill again. Autio made a nice save to preserve the lead and then the Lions got a break when MSU was called for a penalty to take some of the heat off.
With 2 minutes to play the Lions pulled Autio for a 6-4 advantage on the ice. Connor McEachern tied it up with 1:10 to play, their goal empty on the other side of the net. Alex Limoges made a great centering pass after digging the puck out of the corner. Black Shoe Diaries’ own Heather Weikel was on hand to get the photograph of the game-tying goal, which was used as the main photograph for this article.
Limoges got the winning goal just 30 seconds into the extra frame. After winning the opening face-off during the 3 on 3 overtime, Limoges initially did not like what he saw so he skated the puck back out of the zone. With Tim Doherty there to make the pass, Limoges gained position on the Michigan State defender using his left arm and some solid skating to get in position for a deflection.