Limoges, Nittany Lions Down Spartans 3-2 in Wild OT Finish
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Nittany Lions are hot. Friday, Penn State won an overtime thriller 3-2 over Michigan State, tying the game with an empty-net goal and finishing it off in the extra frame.
Penn State has won six of its last eight games, this time off the back of big performances from Tim Doherty and hero Alex Limoges.
The first few minutes of the game were rather uneventful. Neither team had a prime scoring chance with most of the shots being fired from the outside.
That all changed when Christian Sarlo gave Penn State the lead at 7:01 in the first period. Doherty jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone and used a quick step to find a lane. The freshman Sarlo received a textbook cross-crease pass and put it home. It was easy to tell how excited Sarlo was for his third career goal, as he showed off a fantastic backwards bow-and-arrow celly.
“Doherty made big-time plays tonight,” Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “That's why he's here. He is a 200-foot player.”
Also in the first, Penn State goalie Oskar Autio made a point-blank save on Charlie Combs. Autio came out from his crease to cut off the angle and got it with the pad.
Penn State would get a pair of power plays as Michigan State’s Jagger Joshua and Mitchell Lewandowski took back-to-back high-sticking penalties. However, with under five minutes in the opening frame, Penn State couldn’t find its rhythm and didn’t get any quality looks. Still, the Nittany Lions took a 17-5 shot advantage into the locker room.
Michigan State might have responded with the only goal of the second period, but it was the Kevin Wall show. Wall recorded five second-period shots and was a factor all over the ice.
Josh Nodler scored the Spartans’ goal to tie it. The shot was far from fancy, as he ripped the puck from the circle, going off a Penn State stick and sliding underneath the pad of Autio. For Nodler, it was his second goal of the season and team-leading ninth point.
The period saw some 4-on-4 action, as both Joshua and Wall took matching… interference penalties (Almost never do you see two interference penalties in the same shift). Penn State took a 33-18 shot advantage into the intermission.
Michigan State started the third period with some tremendous puck luck. Lewandowski scored from an awkward angle, as the puck somehow snuck behind Autio. It was Lewandowski’s fourth of the season to give his team the 2-1 advantage.
From then on, it was all Penn State. But with every Penn State shot came another Drew DeRidder save. It seemed all hope was lost for the Nittany Lions when Doherty missed a shorthanded breakaway. Chase McLane even took a tripping penalty with under five minutes to play to send Michigan State to the advantage.
“There was a sense that maybe it wasn’t our night,” Gadowsky said. “I give our guys a lot of credit.”
That’s when the clutch gene of Connor MacEachern came out. With the goalie pulled and just 1:10 to go in the period, MacEachern cut towards the net and received a pass from down low. That meant free hockey—overtime—at Pegula.
Just 30 seconds in, Limoges called game. It was a beautiful saucer pass from Doherty to Limoges, and the senior captain redirected it to find twine.
“I can't state enough what Limoges means to this program,” Gadowsky said. “He is the real deal as a player and leader.”
Penn State has now won six of its last eight games. A win tomorrow could be a wake-up call for the Big Ten that the Nittany Lions aren’t going anywhere.
Kyle Cannillo is a broadcast journalism major at Penn State. To contact him, email email@example.com.