No. 11 Penn State Defeats Michigan State, 4-2
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Junior Nate Sucese (Fairport, N.Y.) scored the eventual game-winning goal as No. 11 Penn State defeated Michigan State, 4-2, in Big Ten Conference action this evening from Pegula Ice Arena.
The win moves the Nittany Lions to 13-6-2 on the year and 5-5-1-1 in Big Ten play while the Spartans fall to 6-12-3 overall and 2-7-2-2 in conference action with the loss. Penn State jumps from sixth to fourth in the Big Ten with 17 points and is now just one point out of second and three back of first place Ohio State.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Penn State opened the scoring taking advantage of a strong fore-check behind the MSU net as sophomore Sam Sternschein (Syosset, N.Y.) fed the puck out front to senior Kevin Kerr (Bensalem, Pa.) and the alternate captain sent a one-timer from the slot to the back of the net for the 1-0 lead at 12:48 of the opening frame.
- The Nittany Lions extended the lead to 3-0 with a pair of goals less than two minutes apart in the second as junior Nikita Pavlychev (Yaroslavl, Russia) wrapped one in around the near post at 6:36 before Sucese let loose a one-timer from the right circle during the power-play at 8:19 of the middle period for the three-goal cushion.
- The Spartans cut into the deficit taking advantage of a defensive zone turnover by PSU as Patrick Khodorenko was left all alone in the slot and ripped one over the glove of Nittany Lion junior goaltender Peyton Jones (Langhorne, Pa.) for the 3-1 score at 13:19.
- Michigan State got even closer taking advantage of a Penn State hooking call as Taro Hirose threw one on net during the power-play that went off Jones’ stick and in at 17:42 for the 3-2 deficit.
- Penn State regained the two-goal cushion midway through the third period as junior Kris Myllari (Kanata, Ontario) sent the puck intentionally wide and classmate Liam Folkes (Scarborough, Ontario) ripped a no angle shot the deflected off a Spartan skate and past goaltender Drew DeRidder for the 4-2 lead at 10:43 of the final frame.
Jones improves to 9-4-2 on the year after stopping 25 shots while DeRidder falls to 2-5-3 after 35 save performance.
“Great crowd tonight, which helped us. I think, in spurts, we did play very well, but, obviously, we have to be a lot more consistent. But any win at this time of year is a really good win, so we’re happy for that.”
Q: How has Peyton Jones matured? Because there was a time where maybe that one soft goal might have led to a couple more.
A: “Yeah, I think you’re right. Along the same lines, there was one really bad break in his freshman year that cost us at Wells Fargo. The puck hit the net, if you guys remember. We stopped playing, Peyton stopped playing, and Princeton scored the game-winning goal. It shouldn’t have counted, but I think Peyton got in a mood there. That was the only time I really saw that, but I think he learned a lot from that experience. What I like best about Peyton Jones right now is that there was a stretch where pucks were just going in off of us. We had goals off of skates, shin-pads, sticks, even off the boards. But he said ‘You know what? I’m playing well.’ He believed in himself, he knew he didn’t need to change, and I think when you have that confidence in yourself, things can really turn around. I think we saw that tonight.”
Q: What did you make of Sam Sternschein’s performance tonight? It certainly seems like he is developing into a more complete player.
A: “One hundred percent, and the funny thing is that Sammy’s a scorer. If you look at goals per shift over the past couple years, he’s got to be up there. But he’s really come a long way, and it seems like his best hockey is played with Pav [Nikita Pavlychev]. I don’t know why, because Pav is a defensive guy. But I really think Sammy has developed into a more consistent defensive player. When he’s moving, he has presence, so he’s an excellent fore-checker. He’s just come a long, long way; I love how he’s playing right now.”
Q: It seemed like both teams were getting after it from the very beginning. What type of physical test was this for your team tonight?
A: “Well, I give Michigan State credit. I think they came out harder than we did. I think they really wanted to come in and try to establish their game, establish their fore-check, and make sure they finished checks. I give them credit. I thought they played well and that they probably should’ve deserved to be up. But I did like how we came back. They’re just a physical team. I like how they played, but, at the same time, I think we responded very well, also.”
- The Nittany Lions debuted a new third jersey this evening marking the first time in nearly four years they’ve had a new sweater. Penn State’s original third jersey was unveiled on January 17, 2015.
- Penn State held the 39-27 edge in shots on goal while each team went 1-for-5 with the man-advantage.
- The Nittany Lions improve to 12-7-4 against the Spartans including a 7-1-3 mark at Pegula Ice Arena in 23 all-time meetings.
- Biro extends his point-streak to seven games (2-8-10) tying his career-high as the junior has now registered at least one point in 11 of his last 12 games with three goals and 12 assists for 15 points over that span. With a pair of assists tonight, Biro now has seven multi-point efforts this season and 18 for his career.
- With the eighth goal of his career, Kerr jumps into a tie with Connor Varley and Erik Autio for fifth on the Penn State all-time goal list for defenseman. He is also now just one point shy of tying Vince Pedrie for fourth on the all-time points list for defenseman
- Sucese’s second period power-play tally snapped an 0-for-9 drought over the last three-plus games for Penn State.
- Both teams return to Pegula Ice Arena tomorrow evening as they close out the weekend series with a 7 p.m. puck drop.