Michigan State Hockey (6-12-3) fell to No. 11 Penn State (13-6-2) Friday night at University Park. The Spartans were caught trailing the majority of the contest, as the Nittany Lions secured a 4-2 victory at the front end of a two-game home stand against the Spartans.
Penn State’s Nate Sucese had the game winner for Penn State. Taro Hirose had two points for MSU, as he assisted a goal and netted one himself, sustaining his status as NCAA points leader. Penn State’s Peyton Jones had 25 saves for the ninth-ranked Nittany Lions. Drew DeRidder saved 35 for the Spartans.
The Nittany Lion’s offense would be given an opportunity just over three minutes into the first period, as junior forward Mitchell Lewandowski’s hooking penalty left the Spartans shorthanded.
Killing 76 percent of power plays on the season, the Spartans’ penalty kill successfully fended off two Penn State power plays in the first period.
Penn State’s offense would take control, as the Nittany Lions defensemen were able to retain the offensive zone for significant stretches through the latter half of the period.
Penn State’s pressure would eventually break through eight minutes in, as Kevin Kerr capitalized on Sam Sterschein’s wrap around feed to put the Nittany Lions ahead 1-0.
MSU would head into intermission trailing despite outshooting Penn State 16-15.
The Spartans began the second period on a power play but failed to convert. After successfully killing two early Penn State power plays, Penn State’s offensive pressure manifested for the second time on the night. With heavy traffic around the net, Nikita Palachev snuck a wraparound goal past DeRidder. The goal would be reviewed for goaltender interference, but the call on the would stand as PSU took a 2-0 advantage.
Penn State’s pressure would prove unrelenting in the ensuing minutes. Just under two minutes later, Sucese would convert the first power play goal of the game after a Lewandowski tripping penalty. At the end of a nine-minute opening stretch in the second, Penn State recorded nine shots to MSU’s one, expanding their lead to 3-0.
With seven minutes remaining in the period, however, Hirose’s “KHL Line” would flash its explosiveness. His backhand pass to Lewandowski in the slot preceded an assist to junior center Patrick Khodorenko’s goal for the Spartans.
Hirose would pull the Spartans within one at 3-2 before the end of the third, as his shot from the left circle snuck past Jones .
Despite starting the period down one, MSU would not overcome the deficit. Liam Folkes would all but seal the contest as his goal from behind the end line bounced off DeRidder. The Spartans would pull DeRidder, but Penn State would hang on to win 4-2.
The Spartans will look to split the weekend, as puck drop is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at University Park.