Penn State Drops Opening Game Of Big Ten Tournament Against Ohio State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Playoff hockey brings a new level of competition.
Penn State fell against Ohio State 4-3 in Game 1 of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday night in Columbus.
The Buckeyes took the season series against the Nittany Lions 3-0-1 and wanted to continue their success when the lights shined the brightest.
The opening period was marked by physical play, with both teams generating scoring chances but couldn't find the back of the net.
The score remained knotted at zero until late in the second period when junior defender flipped the puck over the blue and white’s backline connecting with freshman forward Georgii Merkulov, who made no mistake giving Ohio State a one-goal advantage.
The Buckeyes added to their advantage just 1:13 later as graduate student forward Eric Cooley redirected a shot from sophomore forward Patrick Guzzo past sophomore goalie Liam Souliere.
After 36 minutes of scoreless hockey, Penn State entered the third period down two goals and looked to cut into the deficit.
However, Ohio State kept its scoring attack alive, with senior forward Quinn Preston scoring on a breakaway after an excellent pass from freshman forward Cam Thiesing just over two minutes into the third.
The Nittany Lions got on the board midway through the period as sophomore forward Tyler Paquette scored a much-needed goal giving his team a huge momentum boost.
Paquette’s goal was assisted by sophomore forward Xander Lamppa and freshman forward Carson Dyck.
The blue and white kept its momentum going when just two minutes later Christian Sarlo made an excellent pass to junior Connor McMenamin, who fired a shot past freshman goalie Jakub Dobes.
The Buckeyes took back their two-goal lead with under minutes left in the game as Merkulov netted his second goal of the contest.
Penn State didn’t quit in this game as just 18 seconds after Merkulov scored, junior defender Kenny Johnson tallied his first collegiate goal after a pass from junior forward Connor MacEachern.
However, the Nittany Lions couldn’t score the tying goal and lost in heartbreaking fashion 4-3.
In typical Penn State fashion, it tallied a high shot total posting 52 compared to the Buckeyes' 31.
The blue and white came out extremely aggressive in the third period recording 20 of its 52 shots in that frame.
After sophomore forward Chase Mclane went down with a season-ending injury earlier this campaign, faceoffs have been a big issue for coach Guy Gadowsky’s squad.
The Nittany Lions won the faceoff battle, winning 57 percent of draws.
Special teams have also been a problem for Gadowsky’s team and in Friday's contest, the penalty kill was successful on its two attempts while the powerplay failed to convert on three opportunities.
Penn State will be back in action on Saturday night, with its season on the line. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
Alex Rocco is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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