Penn State Continues to Struggle in Series Finales
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- For the third straight weekend, No. 6 Penn State dropped Game 2 of a ranked series, this time falling to No. 17 Michigan State 7-3.
After taking series openers against Michigan, Minnesota and Michigan State, the Nittany Lions have been unable to capture a sweep in nearly a month. The struggles do not just stop with losses though, as the blue and white struggled to close out series against Canisius and St. Thomas.
Alternate captain Kevin Wall spoke about the struggles of closing out those series.
“I think they just wanted it more tonight, and it’s just been the story the past couple of weekends,” Wall said. “It’s getting really frustrating.”
This time around it was a high-powered Michigan State that would not be denied early and often. Matt Basgall started the scoring on the Spartan’s first shot of the game with 17:20 left in the first period.
The fourth goal of Basgall’s freshman campaign was followed by the first of Jeremy Davidson’s junior campaign. After a Penn State goal was called back on a high-stick, Jesse Tucker tucked one by Liam Souliere, keeping the foot on the pedal for Michigan State.
That third goal, which came with 11:17 left in the first period, ended Souliere’s night as the junior netminder allowed three goals on six shots, and was replaced by Noah Grannan in a decision that Guy Gadowsky said was about getting the team going.
“We were dull. We were off. We were not competing, and that change was for the team not because of [Souliere] by any means,” Gadowsky said. “It was for the team. That was 100% the decision that went into it.”
Grannan, making his third collegiate appearance, provided that spark for the blue and white stopping all nine shots that went his way in the first period.
With momentum in net, the Nittany Lions gained the same momentum on offense. Christian Sarlo continued the hot play of his line, which includes Xander Lamppa and Tyler Paquette, when he snuck one past Dylan St. Cyr with 3:27 left in the opening period.
As if Penn State needed any more momentum, Jagger Joshua provided it as he was given a game misconduct for an interference call due to a hit on Ben Schoen. Joshua, who scored a goal in the series opener, gave way to a five-minute penalty that the Nittany Lions would capitalize on.
Tyler Gratton scored his second goal of the series, both of which came on the power play, before Wall, who was playing in his 100th career game, netted his 33rd career goal to knot the score at three.
“That’s another thing about culture is how you react when things aren’t good. The great teams react very positively,” Wall said. “Score three goals like that and some teams whose culture isn’t good, they just roll over. So, I think it’s really good that we got three goals in a short amount of time.”
That is when those series finale problems came back to the Nittany Lions as Wall’s goal, which came with five seconds left in the first period, was the end of Penn State’s scoring. On the other side though, the Spartan were not done yet.
Karsen Dorwart scored the third goal of his collegiate career to put the Spartans back up just after the halfway point of the second period. Dorwart finished the scoring for Michigan State in the third period, but not before Cole Krygier and Daniel Russell scored late in the second.
“Every season you’re gonna have peaks and valleys, everyone, it’s not a matter if you don’t, it's a matter of what you do with them, how you respond,” Gadowsky said.
Gadowsky and company return to action against Gadowsky's former program, Alaska Fairbanks, for a two-game series beginning Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.
Justin Ciavolella is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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