No. 11 Penn State men’s hockey (13-6-2, 5-5-1 Big Ten) knocked off Michigan State (6-12-3, 2-7-2 Big Ten) 4-2 Friday night at Pegula Ice Arena.
The Nittany Lions were led by a balanced scoring attack on Friday night. Kevin Kerr, Nikita Pavlychev, Nate Sucese, and Liam Folkes scored for Penn State as it picked up its second win in three games.
Peyton Jones made 24 saves in net for as he picked up his ninth win of the season.
How It Happened
The game got off to a somewhat vanilla start, with neither team seriously threatening to score in the opening minutes. The action began to pick up just past eight minutes into the first period when Peyton Jones mishandled a puck behind his own net.
Jones’ turnover led to a Michigan State scoring chance, but the Spartans failed to capitalize on the junior netminder’s error and the game remained scoreless.
The Nittany Lions began to ramp up the pressure just past the halfway point of the period, eventually leading to a goal by assistant captain Kevin Kerr. Penn State would force a few more quality saves from Michigan State goalie Drew DeRidder, but the team was unable to extend its lead before the end of the first.
The Nittany Lions picked up right where they left off to start the second period, continuing to harass the Spartans on the forecheck and create dangerous scoring chances off the rush.
Nikita Pavlychev found the back of the net to extend his team’s lead to two just over six-and-a-half minutes into the second. Nate Sucese ripped a one-timer past DeRidder on the power play to push Penn State’s advantage to three. Evan Bell — Penn State’s transfer defenseman who was playing in his first game at Pegula Ice Arena — notched the secondary assist on the goal.
Michigan State’s Patrick Khodorenko cut Penn State’s lead to two when he scored his team-leading 13th goal of the season with just under seven minutes remaining in the middle stanza. A few minutes later, college hockey’s leading point getter, Taro Hirose, would send a seemingly harmless shot along the ice towards Jones that managed to find its way into the back of the net.
The second period would end with Penn State holding a slim 3-2 lead, despite heavily outplaying the Spartans for long stretches and holding a 22-14 advantage in shots on goal.
The third period got off to a back and forth start with neither team really able to fully assert itself throughout the first half of the third. With 9:17 to play, Liam Folkes gave the Nittany Lions some much-needed breathing room when he banked the puck off the back of DeRidder’s pads and into the net.
- The Nittany Lions power play had issues consistently entering the offensive zone cleanly and establishing solid possession of the puck. Prior to Nate Sucese’s power play goal in the second period, Penn State had failed to really get anything going early in its man-advantage opportunities.
- Nikita Pavlychev had a fantastic game. The junior from Russia was given with the unenviable assignment of being matched up against the Spartans’ deadly top line. Not only did he do a solid job slowing down Michigan State’s best offensive weapons, but he also chipped in with a goal of his own.
- Evan Bell looked comfortable in his first game at Pegula Ice Arena. He chipped in a secondary assist on the power play and wasn’t afraid to use his beautiful skating stride to make plays for Penn State.
The Nittany Lions and the Spartans will square off again at 7 p.m. Saturday at Pegula Ice Arena.