Nittany Lions Stay Hot, Earn First Win of 2021 over Michigan State

Story posted January 3, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by Christopher Hess

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Penn State (4-5) started the second phase of its 2020-21 season with a 1-0 win over Michigan State (3-4-2) at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing on Sunday afternoon.

The Nittany Lions entered the new year on a three-game winning streak, as the young team began to find its identity and went into the holiday break on a high note.

Once the puck dropped, neither side could really establish any possession, and neither goalie was really tested early on.

Xander Lamppa had a quality opportunity down low, but Drew DeRidder shut the door to keep the game scoreless.

The Spartans then began to push back against a stingy Nittany Lions defense, as Charlie Combs knifed his way to the net-mouth. But Penn State goaltender Oskar Autio kept the puck out with just over 14 minutes to play.

Nearly 10 minutes had passed, and there wasn’t much going on until Autio made a miraculous no-look pad save with about three minutes to play, keeping the score at 0-0.

Then there was finally a goal.

Defenseman Powell Connor turned the puck over in his own zone, and Sam Sternschein took advantage of the errant pass to put the puck past DeRidder at 17:04.

The Nittany Lions went into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead after a stellar period of defense.

Once the second period started, it looked just like the first. Neither side had any real opportunities to get quality shots on goal.

Mason Snell was called for a cross-check with 7:49 left in the second period, but the Spartans had trouble generating any sort of offense on the power play.

The second period ended with the Nittany Lions still holding on to that 1-0 lead.

The third period, like the other two periods, was more of the same style of play from both teams: plenty of dump and chase, not many quality shots on goal, and the defenses standing tall.

Michigan State pulled DeRidder with 1:15 to play, but its last-ditch effort was thwarted once again by a Penn State defense that suffocated the Spartans all afternoon, holding them to just three shots on goal in the final frame.

Autio registered his third career shutout and his first in conference play, making 23 saves in the process.

DeRidder also played extremely well, as he saved 28 of 29 shots for a .966 save percentage.

The Nittany Lions and Spartans will conclude their series tomorrow afternoon at Munn Ice Arena with puck drop scheduled for 3 p.m.


Christopher Hess is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email