Men’s hockey finds success against Spartans, moves into first place in Big Ten

posted January 18, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Michael Katz

The Big Ten has a new first place team, as Penn State (11-7-3, 5-20-1-0 B1G) took four out of a possible six points from the visiting Michigan State Spartans over the weekend. The Nittany Lions came back to tie Michigan State and take a point on Friday, and stormed to an emphatic 5-2 victory on Saturday.

Friday night, Michigan State drew first blood 16 minutes into the first period as Brent Darnell took the puck to the side of the net and shot a puck that caromed over Penn State goaltender Eamon McAdam and bounced into the crease, where Ryan Keller put it in the net as McAdam was wiped out by the Spartan’s Thomas Ebbing. The goal was reviewed for a possible goalie interference, but was held up after a long review.

Penn State answered with under a minute remaining in the first, when Scott Conway found a streaking Eric Scheid, who got off on a breakaway and snuck one through the five-hole of Spartan goalie Jake Hildebrand.

The tie was broken just 26 seconds after the equalizer on a beautiful wrist shot by Villiam Haag of Michigan State. Haag fired one from the circle that got just over the blocker side of McAdam and hit the upper corner of the net.

The scoring halted for much of the rest of the game, as Michigan State stepped up its defensive play, especially in the blocked shot department. The Spartans finished the game with 18 blocked shots.

“Blocking shots is part of our DNA, you want to be on our team, you need to block shots. It’s not a fun assignment, but its what you sign up for,” said Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos.

The Penn State offense that had been slowed down for much of the second and third periods came alive with a little under eight minutes remaining in the game. Penn State’s Casey Bailey fired a shot from a bad angle, which deflected to the other side of the net for Taylor Holstrom. Holstrom’s shot was saved by Hildebrand, but David Goodman was there for the put back on the rebound.

“We had players back, and we didn’t do our jobs, we had missed assignments,” said Anastos.

The game went to overtime, which ended without another score.
Michigan State picked up the extra point with a shootout win. Darnell put a puck through the five-hole of McAdam, and Hildebrand saved all three opportunities from the Nittany Lions.

“It’s frustrating. Since I’ve been here we’ve only scored maybe one shootout goal and we’ve been in at least four shootouts, so it’s really frustrating because we practice them a lot,” said Goodwin.

Game two of the series started off with a bang in the blink of an eye. Bailey got off on a breakaway and netted his 15th goal of the season with a quick snapshot past Hildebrand.

“I tried to go low blocker last night in the shootout and it ended up working tonight,” said Bailey.

Michigan State fired back twice before the period expired. Haag scored a power play goal on a misdirect from the top of the slot, and Michigan State’s leading scorer Michael Ferrantino scored off of a big rebound with 23 seconds left in the period.

After falling behind, Penn State absolutely dominated the rest of the way.

Defenseman Nate Jensen tied it up with his first goal of the year when the puck found his stick during a scrum at the front of the net.

“It’s nice to have a d-man get involved, and I thought they [the Jensen and Connor Varley pairing] were very in control and added a confidence,” said Penn State head coach Guy Gadowski.

The Nittany Lions took the lead two minutes later when Varley hustled to a puck to send it behind the net. There, Bailey found it and passed it to Goodwin who buried it at the other side of the net.

“Hildebrand bit pretty hard on Casey and then he threw it backdoor and I had a pretty big opening,” said Goodwin.

The Nittany Lions never looked back and put some salt in the wounds in the third period. Holstrom scored on a deflection of a point shot from Luke Juha, and Bailey netted his second of the game after Hildebrand left him a rebound off of a save of Holstrom.

Bailey’s second goal was his 16th of the year, giving him the most goals in the country this season.

“Its definitely not me doing all the work. If you look at a lot of my goals, without these two guys [Holstrom and Goodwin], without the whole team, the defense is involved as well, it’s definitely a team effort,” said Bailey.

Mike Katz is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mkatzpkpsi@gmail.com.