Penn State Men’s Hockey Takes Game 1 From Michigan State Behind Late Rally

Story posted December 4, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by Christopher Hess

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Special teams, special teams, special teams.

Two power-play goals and a statistically perfect penalty kill propelled Penn State (10-6-0 2-5-0) to a gritty 4-2 win over Michigan State (8-6-1 3-4-0) Friday night at Pegula Ice Arena.

“We had a big PP late in the third and a big PK in the third,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said.

Both sides came out with physical play and the Spartans were perhaps a little too physical as Jagger Joshua was tabbed with a roughing minor and a 10-minute misconduct just 1:01 into the contest.

The minor was eventually killed off and Michigan State used that kill as a spark plug to sustain offensive pressure, but Oskar Autio wasn’t having any of it.

Autio made three crucial saves to keep the game scoreless with about 14 minutes to go in the period, including two on Mitchell Mattson and Nicolas Müller right in the goalmouth.

The Spartans defense had been stellar for the first half of the period, right up until Long Island native Christian Sarlo cracked the scoreboard on the man-advantage with his fourth goal of the year.

Sarlo went up the middle of the ice untouched and snapped a wrister over the shoulder of Drew DeRidder and Penn State grabbed a 1-0 lead at 9:56.

Those scoring chances for both sides then fizzled away for the remaining minutes of the period and the Nittany Lions went into the locker room up 1-0 after 20-minutes of play.

As the second period progressed, the penalties began to really pick up as there were four combined penalties with a bit of extracurriculars at the end of the play.

Michigan State continued to pressure with a flurry of shots at the welcome mat, but the netminder stood tall and kept the Penn State lead at 1-0.

Ryan Kirwan, who has seemingly gotten better and better as each game progresses, picked up the loose change out front and shoveled the biscuit past DeRidder for his fifth tally to increase the lead to 2-0 at 15:31.

Ben Copeland was credited with an assist and that extended his points streak to seven games.

The Spartans did not go quietly as Cole Krygier added his third goal of the season 2:23 later on a chip shot over the shoulder of Autio and that 2-1 score held going into the final 20.

One Krygier had already notched a goal, and Christian decided it was his time to score his first goal of the season with a wicked wrist shot to equal the score at 2:23 of the third.

Michigan State was starting to smell blood and strike again. Momentum was completely on the side of the green and white.

Connor MacEachern had other ideas.

The junior notched his ninth goal of the season on a shot from the top of the left circle at 8:30 on the power-play and Penn State had a 3-2 lead.

“We’re at Penn State, we wanna score goals,” MacEachern said.

After a Chase McLane tripping penalty, Jesse Tucker was inches away from tying up the game once more, but Autio scurried over to the near post to gobble the puck up and keep the score at 3-2.

Danton Cole pulled DeRidder with 1:20 on the clock but it wasn’t enough as the Nittany Lions added an empty netter at the horn courtesy of Tyler Gratton.

The Nittany Lions finished the night going 2-for-7 on the power-play and were perfect on the penalty kill.

Penn State and Michigan State will square off again at 5 p.m. on Saturday night.

Christopher Hess is a fifth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email