Penn State (5-7) battled on the road to keep within striking distance in a tough Big Ten conference and are now heading home for a pair of 6-game home stands, broken up by a pair of games in Ann Arbor. With 12 of the next 14 games coming at home, Guy Gadowsky’s team could find itself back in the hunt for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid.
Penalties came early and often, the teams combining for 13 on the day, including a 5-minute major against the Buckeyes. With all of the penalty time, there was only one power play goal, by Ohio State. Penn State battled to hold a 3-2 lead late into the game, then added two empty net goals to seal the deal.
Oskar Autio played another great game, similar to his performance a week ago when he shut out the Spartans 1-0. Most of the game was played at Ohio State’s preferred pace and Autio refused to allow them to get the tying goal, which could have changed the outcome of the game. It appears that Autio is becoming more comfortable and has finally taken the mantle as the starting goalie, though we will likely see freshman Liam Souliere from time to time as the season goes on.
Penn State heads home to play Michigan State, with a chance to get to .500 with a series sweep. It should be remembered that a .500 team from the Big Ten is likely to make the NCAA field this year.
How It Happened
There were five penalties in the first period, which had a drastic affect on the flow of the game. Alex Limoges got the first goal of the game off a nice hustle play by Christian Sarlo.
Ohio State tied the game at one apiece on a shot from the point and a tip off a stick in front of goalie Oskar Autio. The puck was heading toward the blocker side but with the tip it went to the other side.
With less than a minute to play in the opening period Ohio State went on a power play but were unable to get a go-ahead goal. The Lions killed off the remaining portion of the penalty to open the second period. Kevin Wall scored to give PSU a 2-1 lead early in the period.
Tim Dogherty extended the lead with his fifth goal of the season on a dirty goal in front of goalie Tommy Nappier after some nice work in the offensive zone.
The Buckeyes went on a power play with 12 minutes to go in the second period. Oskar Autio made a few tough saves to preserve the two-goal lead while getting help from the four skaters in front of him. One minute later, Aarne Talvitie took a penalty and the Lions went on another kill, this time without one of their best penalty killers.
The teams went back to even strength with 7 minutes to go, another team effort wasted away the two minute advantage. It only lasted a minute as the Buckeyes took a penalty, this time it was a 5-minute major with an ejection for an elbow to the head for Colin Peters.
Sam Sternschein nearly got a goal on a rebound in front but Nappier made two great saves. The Lions continued to hold the puck on Ohio State’s side of the ice, forcing a two-minute shift for the four defenders. Nappier finally grabbed a shot from the point to give his team a break. It took a team effort but the major penalty came and went without a goal.
Penn State led 16-6 in shots on goal for the second period and controlled the puck much of the frame.
Oskar Autio started the final period with a nice save to keep the lead to two goals. Had the lead been cut in half in the opening minute, with OSU having recently killed a 5-minute major, it would have had the feeling that the Lions were in trouble. When the Buckeyes did get their second goal of the game, with 15 minutes to play, it was Autio that made the mistake. Autio had a chance to hold a puck but instead let the play continue. Moments later a goal slipped past him.
Autio made up for it with just under 6 minutes with a series a nice saves to keep the lead. At one point Autio was playing without his stick. The next time down the ice the puck ended up right behind Autio’s head, on top of the goal, after a tip nearly went in.
Guy Gadowsky called timeout with 1:47 to play and a face-off coming in front of Autio. Connor McMenamin scored the first empty net goal a few seconds later to give the Lions a 4-2 lead. Kevin Wall added another empty netter shortly after for the final goal of the game.