The wait continues for Penn State’s first official Big Ten win.
After twice answering Michigan State scores with goals of their own, the Nittany Lions could not do it a third time to fall 3-2 Saturday night to the Spartans at Munn Ice Arena.
Michael Ferrantino and Tanner Sorenson scored ahead of Lee Reimer’s game-winner for Michigan State (8-10-3, 2-2-2-2 Big Ten).
Taylor Holstrom and Eric Scheid netted the goals for Penn State (4-14-1, 0-6), which extended its slide to 11 losses in its last 12 games. After beating both the Spartans and Wisconsin last season, the Lions are still searching for the first official Big Ten win in the first season for conference hockey.
But Penn State was finally able to put the puck past Jake Hildebrand, who had a career-high 48 saves Friday night in a 3-0 shutout. The native of Butler made 29 saves Saturday.
Eamon McAdam also stopped 29 shots for the Nittany Lions. McAdam’s best save was a pure fluke, with Thomas Ebbing firing the puck wide off the boards, and the puck rebounding back off McAdam’s shoulder as he was falling backwards.
Ferrantino put the Spartans ahead just 1:33 into the game, firing a backhand from short range past McAdam. The play was set up by the work of Matt Berry and Joe Cox with their work along the boards behind the net before the puck was sent out to Ferrantino.
The Nittany Lions finally broke through on Hildebrand with 28 seconds left in the first period, when Luke Juha and Casey Bailey worked a give-and-go along the left side. Juha delayed a shot to let a Spartan defender slide by, then fired the puck to the front of the net for Holstrom to redirect it past the sophomore netminder.
Sorenson put Michigan State back in the lead after the Spartans kept the Lions playing defense in their own end for a long stretch. Greg Wolfe fed the puck from behind the net to Sorenson, who banked the puck off McAdam’s skate for his first score of the season.
Scheid tied it 1:18 into the third period with a power play score. Taking a feed from Juha low, he was unchecked by the Spartans and patiently picked a spot between Hildebrand’s legs from a tight angle. Zach Saar also picked up an assist on Scheid’s team-leading ninth goal of the season.
The excitement of evening the game early in the third period was tempered quickly by Reimer when he knocked in the game-winner, tapping in the puck 2:23 later to put Michigan State ahead again, standing next to the net and redirecting the shot of RJ Boyd.
Notes: Penn State will play its final non-conference game of the season next Saturday, in its final single-game weekend of the regular season. The Nittany Lions will host No. 5 Boston College at 7 p.m. Saturday at Pegula Ice Arena. ... After not being whistled for a single penalty in Friday’s game, and cutting down on penalties in general the last few weeks, the Nittany Lions had a lot of time in the box again Saturday, with five calls for 21 minutes. Mark Yanis took the big call, hitting a Spartan from behind hard into the boards for a five-minute major and a game misconduct. ... Each team had four power-play chances, with the Nittany Lions the only team to cash in on one. ... The teams also were deadlocked in faceoffs at 29-29. ... Juha now leads Penn State with eight assists.