Saturday night provided a little more drama for the Penn State men’s hockey team, but the Nittany Lions could not quite complete the exciting ending.
Trevor Hamilton scored with 33.6 seconds left in regulation for a 2-2 tie with Michigan State, but the Spartans won the shootout 2-1 to spoil the night.
The Nittany Lions (8-7-1, 3-4-1 Big Ten), who won 7-2 the night before and saw a three-game win streak end, got their other goal from Evan Barratt. Peyton Jones posted 21 saves.
“I’m very happy the guys showed a lot of grit to come back and get that huge goal by Trevor,” coach Guy Gadowsky said.
Taro Hirose and Carson Gatt had the goals for the Spartans (7-6-1, 1-4-1-1) and goalie John Lethemon, who was pulled early in the first period Friday, made 41 saves.
It was Penn State’s third overtime game this season but the first that did not produce a score during the extra five minutes.
In the shootout, Hirose and Mitch Lewandowski both scored for Michigan State, while Andrew Sturtz hit the net for Penn State, but Brandon Biro and Alex Stevens both missed on their chances.
Player of the Game
Trevor Hamilton: With Jones pulled for an extra Nittany Lion attacker over the final 90 seconds, Penn State was peppering shots at the net and finally cashed in. A rebound bounced to Hamilton in the right faceoff circle, and with his back to the net, the senior defenseman flipped a backhand top-shelf to tie it up.
“I just figured, ‘Hey, get in front of the net, try to get something at the net,’” Hamilton said. “Luckily I got a stick on a shot. It just laid there for me. I kind of just threw it with my backhand to the net, hopefully for a rebound or even a goal.”
He doesn’t even remember returning to the bench to celebrate after the goal.
“At that point I kind of blacked out,” he acknowledged.
Other than Hamilton’s dramatic score, all the goals were netted in the second period.
Penn State’s offense put plenty of pressure on the Spartans, but the first score didn’t find the net until past the game’s midpoint, when Brett Murray slid the puck from behind the net to Barratt in the slot, flipping it past Lethemon for his fourth goal in as many games.
The lead didn’t last long, with Hirose scoring less than three minutes later. Jones tried to play the puck behind the net, but sent it straight to Patrick Khodorenko in the corner. Khodorenko hit Hirose cutting through the middle with Jones scrambling to return to the net.
Gatt gave the Spartans the lead just over two minutes later, pouncing on a long rebound.
On the draw
Penn State has been struggling in faceoffs most of the season, winning just 47.7 percent on the dots after leading the nation last season. The Nittany Lions posted an impressive 43-22 record (66 percent) on draws Friday, but had a 37-38 record Saturday.
Penn State was 0 for 1 with a power play, the only chance coming in the final 1:43 of overtime. Twice it appeared the Lions would have a man advantage after Spartan infractions, but both times the referee added an embellishment call on a Lion to deliver coincidental minors, with the arena crowd roaring with boos after both calls.
“I thought this community is a very educated hockey community,” Gadowsky said, dodging a chance to critique the officials. “I think they spoke pretty well what I was thinking.”
Blocked again and again
Although Penn State fired 43 shots on goal, the team took 103 total shots including those off target and a stunning 32 blocked by the Michigan State defense.
Penn State hits the road for a two-game Big Ten series at Ohio State on Friday and Saturday.