Penn State was coming into this game against Michigan State on a three-game win streak, and hoping to make it four heading into Madison next weekend. However, it was the Spartans that eventually came out on top, 4-3. However despite the loss, Guy Gadowsky felt that his squad played a really solid game.
The first period was very chippy. It was filled with physical play, as was expected in a conference matchup. Emotions are always high in these games especially down the stretch.
The Spartans drew first blood early in the opening period with a goal from Nicolas Muller. Shortly after, Chase McLane was able to find the back of the net on a weak backhand shot from the goal-line, beating Michigan State goaltender Pierce Charleson through the five-hole.
Whoopsies pic.twitter.com/29F5FvDsoi— Penn State Mens Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) December 4, 2021
The Nittany Lions started to tilt the ice after the McLane goal, but Michigan State responded late in the period with a goal from defenseman Dennis Cesana.
The second period was back-and-forth. Both teams had great chances, but the only goal in the middle frame came from the red-hot Connor MacEachern. The third-year forward had the game-winning goal in last night's contest, and scored his 10th goal of the season tonight.
In the final frame, it was all Michigan State for the first 10 minutes of the period. A.J. Hodges found a wide-open Kristof Papp on a Penn State defensive breakdown, putting the puck past Oskar Autio to extend the lead to two.
"I think what really killed us was odd-man rushes against," Paul DeNaples said after the loss. "Their [defensemen] are very active and they were jumping up in plays and we didn't really have a solution to it."
The Nittany Lions were starting to find their legs after Papp's goal. On a clean breakout, Charleson left a juicy rebound off a Tyler Paquette shot and Carson Dyck made no mistake scoring his first colligate goal.
The Nittany Lions had the momentum on their side and were due for a late tally to tie the game, but weren't able to do so. Gadowsky said that there is still work to be done and that he wants to see more consistency.
"We were doing a good job of playing fast and getting opportunities, but we weren't doing a great job of getting to the net for the second and third [chance opportunities]," Gadowsky said. "We have to be hungrier in the paint. It takes more than skill to do that and we have to do that consistently."
- The transition game was excellent. Michigan State head coach Danton Cole praised Penn State's transition game and how his team had to make some adjustments heading into tonight's game. "They turn the edges and they get pucks to the net which creates second and third chances," Cole said. "We spent a lot of time on backchecking and defending."
- Power play struggles. Penn State was 0-3 on the power play tonight. It was 1-7 in the series. Michigan State plays a very frustrating style of hockey, where it blocks a lot of shots. The Spartans blocked 16 tonight.
Lots of high-quality scoring chances. Penn State put up 52 shots on goal in tonights game. The first time they have done so this season. The Nittany Lions gave Charleson a hard time in the crease by pounding the puck at the net. Unfortunately, Penn State did not have consistent net-front presence to put in those rebounds.
Penn State travels to Madison to take on the Badgers next weekend. The Badgers were the team that eliminated the Nittany Lions in last year's Big Ten tournament.