Physicality Gets the Best of Banged-Up Nittany Lions, Splitting Ohio State Series

Story posted February 5, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Joshua Bartosik

COLUMBUS, Ohio – For the sixth time this season, Penn State failed to complete the sweep as a late tally from Ohio State propelled it to a 4-2 victory at Value City Arena to split the series.

The physicality from the previous contest between these two squads rolled into the next one, with things getting quite chippy early on.

The Nittany Lions struggled to match the intensity early on and struggled to break out the puck, but Liam Souliere stood strong after backing up Noah Grannan the night prior.

Souliere could only stand on his head for so long, and Jaedon Leslie of the Buckeyes sniped one over the shoulder of the junior netminder late in the first to give the scarlet and red its first lead of the series.

“We honestly weren’t at our best early and he was excellent,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “It’s too bad that one went in on him because he otherwise played a fantastic period.”

The blue and white had a golden opportunity to tie things up early in the second period on a 5-on-3 power play, but the best penalty kill in the Big Ten showed why it was just that.

The Nittany Lions finished the series 0-for-6 on the man advantage and the abysmal power play numbers continue to plummet, sitting at 16.2% on the year.

Despite not scoring on the power play, Paul DeNaples found Tyler Gratton midway through the middle frame to even the score at one apiece.

Just three minutes after the puck dropped for the third period, Davis Burnside potted his second goal in as many games for Ohio State, beating the Penn State defense to the front of the net and scoring on the rebound.

The Nittany Lions took no time to respond, as Jimmy Dowd Jr. blasted a shot past Jakub Dobes to even things up.

Dowd’s goal was his first point since Dec. 3, which came against Ohio State at Pegula Ice Arena and would go down as the game winner in Penn State’s 2-1 victory.

“It’s nice to see [Dowd] score because he had a little lull,” Gadowsky said. “When guys work hard to come out of that it’s nice to see them rewarded.”

As the third period winded down, it looked like the two Big Ten foes were heading for a seventh-straight one goal contest, but Tate Singleton made sure that wasn’t the case.

Defenseman Cole McWard was given plenty of time and space to pick his spot, and he slung the puck directly onto the stick of Singleton who redirected it past Souliere for his second goal of the series.

The net front play was one of the critical components of this series, and the Buckeyes got the better of the Nittany Lions, allowing them to find easy backdoor goals.

“I actually thought that the one thing we pride ourselves on and we’ve done a pretty good job of all year is to win the net fronts,” Gadowsky said. “I thought that was a big part of our success throughout this year, but this weekend wasn’t one of them.”

McWard would get his third point of the night after he hit the empty net with 2:02 left in the game and the score would stay that way as the horn sounded.

Even without the sweep, going on the road and getting three points against a conference opponent is a win by any means, especially given the amount of injuries the Nittany Lions have sustained.

Penn State now gets a much-needed week of rest, before taking on No. 1 Minnesota back at Pegula in another crucial matchup.

“This bye week could not come at a better time,” Gadowsky said. “We’re banged up, we’re missing bodies. We have to get back healthy physically and then get sharp mentally.”

The Nittany Lions are still without Ryan Kirwan and Connor McMenamin, and Jarod Crespo went down with an injury late in the first game in Columbus.

Four teams are tied for second place in the Big Ten with just three weekends of play left, and the blue and white have a lot of work to do to secure a home series for the conference tournament.

“We’re forgetting about [this game] really quickly,” Gadowsky said. “We’ve got a week to heal and get rejuvenated physically and mentally for a push that could put these guys in a position to do something really cool this year.”

Joshua Bartosik is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email