The Ohio State men’s hockey team had the power in its power play Saturday night at Pegula Ice Arena, bringing an end to Penn State’s 11-game unbeaten streak.
Freddy Gerard scored twice and linemate Tanner Laczynski had a goal and two assists as the No. 6 Buckeyes scored a 5-1 win to split the weekend series and move ahead of the No. 13 Nittany Lions by two points in the standings for second place in the Big Ten.
“They’ve got a lot of really good players,” junior forward Chase Berger said. “If you give them that many opportunities, a good team’s going to score.”
Nikita Pavlychev accounted for the lone Lion goal in the team’s lowest-scoring game since a 1-0 loss at Notre Dame on Nov. 11, one of only two outings in which they were held to under two goals.
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Peyton Jones made 37 saves for the Nittany Lions (13-8-3, 6-5-3-2 Big Ten). Tommy Nappier made 30 saves for the Buckeyes (15-5-4, 8-5-1) in his third win in as many starts.
Penn State entered the weekend 12th in the nation in penalty killing at 84 percent, and had stopped 33 of 35 man-down situations over its last 10 games. But in the two games the Buckeyes, who were 29th nationally on power plays, scored on 4 of 9 opportunities with a man advantage. Gerard and Dakota Joshua had the man-up scores Saturday.
The Nittany Lions took five penalties for 21 minutes, including a five-minute major, and didn’t help themselves with a 37-23 deficit in faceoffs.
“We played short-handed way too much against a team like that to give ourselves a good chance to win,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “The start that we had and the mentality in the faceoff circle wasn’t nearly good enough for what we expect.”
Ohio State added had two scores in the final minute with Gerard hitting an empty net and Austin Pooley beating Jones as the final horn sounded.
Player of the Game
Laczynski and his Buckeye linemates were tough to handle, with the sophomore and Philadelphia Flyers draft pick constantly buzzing the crease. He hit a wide-open net on a rebound to open the scoring, then helped set up both of Gerard’s goals. Laczynski entered the night leading the Big Ten and second in the nation in scoring, and now has 34 points on 11 goals and 23 assists.
“Tanner’s obviously a tremendous talent and having a tremendous year,” Gadowsky said. “But he’s not alone out there. There’s a lot of skilled players. They were good all weekend.”
So long Sturtz
Penn State played most of the game without leading scorer Andrew Sturtz, who was ejected with 6:17 left in the first period. The junior forward, who began the game tied for third in the nation in scoring, delivered a hard hit into the boards on the Buckeyes’ Janik Moser. The Buckeye stayed on the ice for several minutes before he was helped to the locker room. The five-minute major and game misconducted produced Gerard’s goal.
“Losing Andrew Sturtz at any time is tough,” Gadowsky said, later adding, “When you lose any tough competitor in a game that’s tough. We need to find a way to step up, and not enough of us did.”
James Robinson was awarded a penalty shot in the second period when he was wrapped up on an attempted breakaway, but the Lions’ senior captain was unable to beat Nappier.
Penn State hits the road the next two weekends, starting with a visit to Michigan next Friday and Saturday. The Nittany Lions have only two series remaining at home in the regular season with Notre Dame (Feb. 2-3) and Minnesota (Feb. 23-24).