EAST LANSING, Mich. — Matthew Skoff got off to a shaky start in a hostile environment.
Hours later he was all smiles in the confines outside a friendly visiting locker room.
Skoff turned aside 31 Michigan State shots — including a tricky redirection in the final 30 seconds — to help preserve the Penn State hockey team’s 3-2 win against Michigan State (7-16-3) at Munn Ice Arena on Saturday. It was the second time the Nittany Lions (10-13-0) beat a future Big Ten hockey opponent this season. Penn State is now 2-1 against future Big Ten foes, having lost to Michigan State on Friday night.
“I know they scored two quick goals, obviously but I thought I hung in there pretty well,” Skoff told the Big Ten Network. “I just kept telling myself, ‘We’re going to get goals.’”
Those goals eventually came, but not before Skoff gave up two goals in the opening seven minutes.
Michigan State got on the board when R.J. Boyd’s slapshot fluttered off Skoff’s glove and into the net just under four minutes into the game. Matt Grassi made it 2-0 Spartans with a slapshot that beat Skoff high again. Penn State recovered when Mark Yanis slapped a loose puck past Spartan goalie Jake Hildebrand on a power play 32 seconds into the second period.
It would prove to be an awakening point for Penn State as the Nittany Lions outshot the Spartans 31-19 the rest of the way.
Penn State’s Casey Bailey tied the game with a wristshot just over three minutes into the third and Taylor Holstrom kept up his recent torrid pace, scoring his sixth goal in as many games, this one turning out to be the game-winner. Holstrom handled a pass from Bailey off the boards and skated in on Hildebrand unchallenged, flipping a backhand shot by Hildebrand’s leg on the short side.
“That’s a big win for us,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “It’s a lot of fun, a great place to play. I’ve got to tell you, at the start of the year I wouldn’t have ever expected this so it’s a huge win for us.”
Notes: Bailey and Holstrom extended points streaks to six and seven games, respectively. ... Forward Max Gardiner matched his career high with three assists. ... Penn State outshot Michigan State 50-33. ... Bailey finished with two assists. ... 6,132 fans took in the game.