Kirwan’s Late Goal Propels Penn State; Forces Decisive Game 3
It was do-or-die for Penn State on Saturday night in Columbus.
The blue and white didn’t let its season end coming away with a 3-2 victory over Ohio State in game 2 of the Big Ten tournament.
It was almost a carbon copy of Friday’s opening period with both teams failing to find the back of the net but, with just 29.8 seconds left in the period, junior forward Connor McMenamin set up freshman forward Dylan Lugris, who blasted a shot past freshman goalie Jakub Dobes giving Penn State a 1-0 lead.
McMenamin’s assist marked a three-game point streak for the Collegeville, Pennsylvania, native.
Midway through the second period, freshman forward Danny Dzhaniyev committed an interference penalty sending the Buckeyes to the power play down a goal.
Ohio State made no mistake on the man-advantage with sophomore forward Michael Gildon putting the rebound home after sophomore forward Travis Treloar hit the post.
The game wouldn’t remain tied for long as with under three minutes remaining in the middle frame, junior forward Kevin Wall gave the blue and white a one-goal advantage.
Freshman forward Ryan Kirwan tallied his 13th assist this campaign, which tied him for 10th most in a single season by a freshman in program history.
With both teams trading goals in the second period, the Nittany Lions went into the second intermission, still holding their one-goal lead.
The Buckeyes didn’t go down quietly as midway through the third period freshman defender Cole McWard ripped a shot past sophomore goalie Liam Souliere knotting the score at two.
The game looked destined for overtime until sophomore forward defender Christian Berger drove toward the net hard and Kirwan capitalized on the rebound with just under three minutes left in the period.
With a goal and an assist in the contest, Kirwan recorded his sixth multi-point game this season.
Penn State held onto the 3-2 lead after Souliere made a few excellent saves in the late stages of the game to force a decisive game three.
Souliere recorded his first career playoff victory making 33 saves in the effort, while Penn State tallied 46 shots, with Dobes stopping 43.
Just like in Friday’s contest, the Nittany Lions did a good job winning faceoffs, as they won 54 percent of draws. Junior forward Connor MacEachern won an impressive 21 faceoffs, which were a game-high.
The blue and white will look to continue to start the game fast as it is 15-4-1 when scoring the first goal of the game. It also has success when leading after two periods of play going 14-4-0 in those games.
An area that coach Guy Gadowsky will look to improve on before game three is the powerplay.
The Nittany Lions failed to score on their three powerplay opportunities in Friday’s game, and it was the same story on Saturday, with the powerplay getting blanked twice.
The two rivals will be back for a winner-take-all game three on Sunday night, with puck drop set for 8 p.m.
Alex Rocco is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com