It took a while, but the Penn State men’s hockey team finally found its offense again.
After getting shut out for four straight periods, the No. 2 Nittany Lions cracked No. 11 Ohio State 4-2 Saturday night at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio to earn a weekend split of their two-game series.
Brandon Biro, Erik Autio, Ricky DeRosa and Chase Berger scored the goals as Penn State returned to the winning side after seeing its 11-game win streak halted with a 3-0 loss Friday.
“This was one of the first times we’ve had real adversity in a while,” said senior captain David Goodwin, who assisted on the first goal. “I think everyone’s really excited that we were able to overcome it and obviously come out with a win.”
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Penn State outshot Ohio State 43-26. Christian Frey made 39 saves in the Buckeye net, and had 85 stops on the weekend against the nation’s highest scoring team.
Peyton Jones made 24 saves for the win, allowing two Nick Schilkey power play goals in the third period. The freshman goalie may not have posted as many saves as his Buckeye counterpart, but he had a number of key stops. He made a couple saves while lying on his stomach in one sequence and also denied the Buckeyes on a 2 on 0 breakaway.
“They definitely had the better Grade A opportunities,” coach Guy Gadowsky told the media in Columbus, “and we needed not only big blocks but big saves.”
Biro finally got a puck past Frey 4:16 into the second period. Goodwin broke in with the initial shot, with the rebound bouncing off Frey’s pads right to Biro with a wide open net.
Autio forced a turnover near the Lion blue line early in the third to start a 2 on 1 break with Biro. The junior defenseman kept the puck the whole way and lifted his shot over Frey’s shoulder, banking it off the far post.
DeRosa scored a shorthanded goal, breaking the other way right after Nikita Pavlychev won a draw at the Penn State end of the ice. It was the Nittany Lions’ sixth goal of the season with a man down.
Schilkey broke through with both of his scores while the Buckeyes were playing with a 5 on 3 power play a little later in the third.
“I think everybody sort of had a sigh of relief (after DeRosa’s goal) and we just let our guard down a little,” Gadowsky said. “Maybe a little with a couple penalties, but they just kept coming and coming and coming.”
With Frey pulled for an extra attacker in the final minute, Denis Smirnov fed the puck to Berger alone in front of the empty net, with the puck crossing the goal line just before the final horn sounded.
Both teams had major chances on special teams. Penn State denied Ohio State on two other 5 on 3 power plays, while the Buckeyes killed off a 5-minute major, as the teams traded big hits. Goodwin came the closest to connecting, hitting a post during the 5-minute major.
“We felt we played pretty well (Friday) night,” Goodwin said. “Ohio State also had a great game, but if we play like we played (Friday) and get a few more bounces we’d be in good shape.”
Notes: Penn State returns home next weekend to host Michigan State on Friday and Saturday. … The Lions and Buckeyes meet again at Pegula Ice Arena in two weeks. … After having to kill just one power play Friday, Penn State was whistled for seven penalties Saturday. Ohio State was 2 for 6 with a man advantage, Penn State was 1 for 3.