Hockey Recap: Penn State Gets Much Needed Sweep of Michigan State

By Michael Green on January 18, 2021 at 8:00 am
The Penn State hockey team celebrates Alex Limoges' game-winning goal in overtime against Michigan State. The Nittany Lions swept the Spartans in the two-game series in Happy Valley.
Penn State Athletics

Game One – Penn state 3, Michigan State 2 (OT)

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

They say it's a 60-minute game. Sometimes it's a 60 minutes and 30 seconds game. Alex Limoges scored just 30 seconds into overtime to lead Penn State to a much-needed victory in the opening game of this two-game series.

Penn State opened the scoring at 7:01 of the first period. Christian Sarlo got Penn State on the board with a feed from Tim Doherty. It was the freshman's third of the season.

Game One Scoring Summary
Team Scoring Time (Pd.)
PSU Christian Sarlo (3)
Doherty, Limoges
7:01 (1)
MSU Josh Nodler (2)
4:01 (2)
MSU Mitchell Lewandowski (1)
0:15 (3)
PSU Connor MacEachern (2) - PP
Limoges, Doherty
18:50 (2)
PSU Alex Limoges (8)
Doherty, Phillips
0:30 (OT)

Michigan State evened the score at 1-1 four minutes into the second period. Josh Nodler's shot deflected off Evan Bell and snuck past Oskar Autio to pull the Spartans even.

Despite being outshot 33-18 through two periods, Michigan State was very much alive. When Mitchell Lewandowski threw a centering pass from behind the net that hit Aarne Talvitie in the skate and ended up behind Autio, you had to wonder if this was one of those games against Sparty. Despite being dominated in just about every phase of the game, MSU led 2-1 and Penn State seemed to have no answer for the Spartans goaltender Drew DeRidder.

Things can change in the blink of an eye, though. While on the power play, the Spartans' Dennis Cesana got called for slashing. Penn State held the puck and all but ran out the rest of the time on Michigan State's man advantage before giving up possession. After 17 seconds of four-on-four, Penn State went on the man advantage. 

With Autio on the bench, Penn State was able to skate six on four. And with 1:10 left in regulation, Connor MacEachern knotted the score 2-2 to set up Limoges' overtime heroics.

Penn State won the faceoff to open overtime and wasted no time. Limoges got behind the defender and chipped a perfect feed over DeRidder's left shoulder for the game-winner.

Limoges finished the night with three points on a goal and two assists. His 117th career points moved him past Denis Smirnov and Brandon Biro and into fourth place on the Penn State all-time list, just one point behind Chase Berger. Doherty assisted on all three goals. Autio stopped 26 of 28 shots to pick up his fifth win of the season.

Game Two – Penn State 3, Michigan State 1

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

Penn State needed a sweep of Michigan State for several reasons. First, a sweep would lift the Lions' overall record to .500 for the first time this season. Second, a sweep would move the team out of the Big Ten basement. 

From the opening face-off, it was clear this team was determined to complete the mission. Less than five minutes into the contest, Evan Bell squeezed a shot past DeRidder for his second of the season.

Charlie Combs managed to even the score at 17:34 of the period and the teams went to the first intermission tied 1-1.

Penn State seemed to take that personally. The team came out flying to open the second period. When the Spartans were caught holding, the Lions went on the power play. Aarne Talivitie scored his fifth of the season with just one second left on the man advantage. Kevin Wall made a great pass to get the puck to Talvitie in position to score.

Game Two Scoring Summary
Team Scoring Time (Pd.)
PSU Evan Bell (2)
McLane, Sternschein
4:45 (1)
MSU Charlie Combs (5)
Apap, Cesana 
17:34 (1)
PSU Aarne Talvitie (5) - PP
Wall, Berger
5:57 (2)
PSU Kevin Wall (6)
Talvitie, Dowd Jr.
13:02 (2)

Wall provided some insurance with his sixth goal of the season at 13:02 of the period to give the Lions a 3-1 lead. 

Following a scrum in front of the net, the Spartans appeared to pull within a goal. However, after review, the goal was waved off due to contact with Autio and the score remained 3-1 heading into the second intermission.

Despite a solid push from Michigan State in the third period, Autio stood tall and held the Spartans scoreless the rest of the way. Autio made 21 saves on the 22 shots he faced to pick up his sixth win of the season.

The secondary assist on Talvitie's goal went to freshman Christian Berger. It was the first point of his Penn State career. The sweep of the Spartans also means that aside from moving into fifth place in the conference, it means that the Lions have now gone 7-2-0 since their 0-5-0 start to the season. Plenty more tests remain, but it's been a wonderful turnaround for Gadowsky's team.

Penn State will host Wisconsin next. The Badgers come to town for games on Thursday and Friday. Make sure you follow Roar Lions Roar as we'll continue to bring you the most content on Penn State hockey.