Hockey Recap: Penn State Splits with Spartans

By Jacob Cheris on January 5, 2021 at 12:30 pm
Penn State forward Christian Sarlo (10) moves the puck against Michigan in Pegula Ice Arena.
Penn State Athletics

Game One – Penn State 1, Michigan State 0

Game One Box Score
  1st 2nd 3rd Final
Penn State 1 0 0 1
Michigan State 0 0 0 0

Penn State got the schedule restart going on a positive note, extending its win streak to four games with an uneventful but successful Game One win against the Michigan State Spartans. The lone goal belonged to Sam Sternschein after a terrible turnover from Michigan State defenseman Powell Connor. Sternschein had been scoreless through the first eight games of the season, so this was surely a huge relief for him.

Game One Scoring Summary
Team Scoring Time (Pd.)
PSU Sam Sternschien (1)
17:04 (1)

Oskar Autio stopped all 23 shots, earning his first shutout of the season. Though Guy Gadowsky's squad prides itself on their offense, this game seemed to be about playing sound defensively. Penn State limited the Spartans to just three shots in the third period and blocked 12 shots, which is something that Michigan State is known for. The Spartans struggled to generate consistent offense in this game because of the strong Penn State defense. They only score about two goals per game anyway, but the Lions really clamped down on Sunday. After three wins shootout wins in a row, it was nice to see this Penn State team show that it can win a low-scoring affair, as well.

Game Two – Michigan State 5, Penn State 1

Game Two Box Score
  1st 2nd 3rd Final
Penn State 0 1 0 1
Michigan State 2 1 2 5

Penn State's four-game win streak ended with a 5-1 loss against the Spartans on Monday. The big surprise going into this game was Liam Souliére getting the start after Oskar Autio had a 1-0 shutout.

The only Penn State goal came from Alex Limoges on the power play, who continues his hot hand. This was his sixth goal of the season. 

Game Two Scoring Summary
Team Scoring Time (Pd.)
MSU Jagger Joshua (1)
Mattson, Papp
2:25 (1)
MSU Gianluca Esteves (1)
Cesana, Kamer
5:03 (1)
PSU Alex Limoges (6) - PP
MacEachern, Doherty
6:20 (2)
MSU Jagger Joshua (2) - PP
Nienhuis, Papp
10:20 (2)
MSU Brody Stevens (1)
14:15 (3)
MSU Mitch Lewandowski (2)
Cesana, Miller
17:45 (3)

The power play was 1-for-3 in this game and the Nittany Lions had a 5-minute power play, but could not capitalize. The Spartans got out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and played to its defensive style for the rest of the game blocking 14 shots. Michigan State also had a 5-minute power play of its own and was able to add to its lead. Penn State really struggled to generate offense throughout the majority of the game. Whenever they did, Michigan State goaltender Drew DeRidder was able to slow the momentum.

Not giving Autio a second straight start coming off of his first shutout of the season was the big story in this one, however. Penn State is going to continue to rotate goalies, if for no other reason than Soulière is the young face of the position, but you would have thought Gadowsky would ride the hot hand here in hopes of grabbing a badly-needed sweep of a conference opponent.

To give a sense of how truly disappointing this loss was, for all but one Spartan that scored in this game, it was their first goal of the season.

Splitting with the worst team in the conference isn't the ideal start for this team out of the break, but grabbing one win was still big considering they were just 1-5 in conference play coming into this one. Still, if they are going to make a move up the Big Ten leaderboard, it will require this team to find a way to balance the high-flying offense we saw against Michigan and Arizona State with the stout defensive-minded squad we saw in Game One of this most recent series. High-powered Ohio State is on deck, and Penn State needs to be at its best to defeat the Buckeyes.