Penn State got a split on the road in a game that could have gone either way. It puts an end to the 0-3-1 conference slide and has pulled the Lions back into a first place tie with the Spartans in the Big Ten standings. The teams have split their last five series.
It was a hard fought game, almost every pass was contested and there was very little ice for either side to work with. Nate Sucese had the only goal through two periods, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead heading into the final frame. The teams were tied at one apiece at the end of regulation.
Freshman Connor McMenamin scored his 4th college goal in overtime, his third game-winning goal of the season. Peyton Jones made 42 saves to get the victory in net.
The Lions will head home for a pair of games against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are in contention for the Big Ten title and the game on Friday night will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network at 6 p.m. Saturday night will feature the White Rush jerseys that were unveiled earlier this year and a stadium cloaked in white.
How It Happened
Penn State came out with the type of energy it would take to win a road game against the team sitting atop the Big Ten standings. The Spartans were playing fast as well and the scoring chances were even through the first ten minutes, shots were 6-5 in favor of Michigan State.
The Lions were called for a penalty with five minutes to go in the opening period but were able to kill it off easily. By the end of the period the shots were 9-7 in favor of Penn State and the game was a dead heat.
Alex Limoges had an open shot three minutes into the second period and Michigan State took the puck down and got a quality shot of their own on Peyton Jones, then sprayed the goalie with a little bit of ice. There was a brief scuffle after the whistle. It was a tight game on the scoreboard but the teams were also both very physical, finishing checks cleanly.
With 13:44 to go Nikita Pavlychev was called for slashing on what looked like a clean hit. The Spartans had a couple of nice shots but were not able to get a power play goal. Midway through the game it was even on the scoreboard and in most stat categories although the Lions had to kill two penalties.
Peyton Jones stopped a partial breakaway by Logan Lamdin with 8 minutes to play before the second intermission. Five minutes later the teams had to be separated after the whistle again. It was a tight game and both sides were becoming antsy.
Nate Sucese finally broke through and got one past John Lethemon with just 43 seconds left in the period. The Michigan State defender directly in front of the shot did not have a stick and he also screened his own goalie.
The goal gave the Lions a little momentum. Shortly after the Spartans were called for their first penalty of the weekend and a minute and a half of the advantage continued into the third period.
Peyton Jones made 17 saves in the second period. On the first shot of the final period, a breakaway short-handed goal got past him to tie the game. It was a tough way to give up the lead but Evan Barratt got a chance to score at the end of the power play to get some momentum back.
Another breakaway got through but Peyton Jones was able to stop it and after the play Barratt got into a pushing match with some Michigan State players. The Spartans hit the post shortly after and Nate Sucese answered with a solid shot at the other end.
Sucese got the puck on a nice give and go from Denis Smirnov with just under ten minutes to play and he hit the post, having got past Lethemon. The Spartans had Penn State on the ropes for a while as the puck remained in front of Peyton Jones for a very long time before it was sent to the boards off Jones’ blocker.
Evan Barratt was called for a penalty for knocking off a player’s helmet with just under 7 minutes to play. The Lions were able to kill the penalty but Jones faced several close calls. Connor McMenamin hit the post on a breakaway just as the Lions got back to full strength and went back to the bench exhausted after being on the ice for over a minute.
With exactly one minute to play John Lethemon went to the ice after a play in which the Lions nearly scored and the live puck was blown dead while still free. He got up after a while and stayed in the game.
Peyton Jones squeezed a tipped shot between his pads in the closing seconds to stop the final scoring chance in regulation and the game went to overtime.
Connor McMenamin took a long rebound out front and put it in the net for the win 39 seconds into the extra frame.
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