Saturday night’s game between Michigan State and No. 11 Penn State was senior night for the Spartans. The Nittany Lions got out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and never looked back, with the game eventually finishing with a score of 4-1.
“The better team won the game and we got what we deserved,” Spartan coach Tom Anastos said.
The game was filled with many penalties and frustrations for the Spartans, who could never seem to get things rolling in Saturday night’s tilt. The Spartans finished with 11 penalties for 22 penalty minutes.
Despite the loss in the final home game, senior captain Joe Cox said he will try and remember the positives.
“It’s frustrating to end here at Munn with a loss,” Cox said. “But once the game was over and we went through the senior ceremony, the game was kind of small compared to the big picture.”
The Nittany Lions notched the game’s first goal when Penn State forward David Goodwin carried the puck into the offensive zone, stopped near the outside of the circle, and passed it to a wide open Nate Sucese, who was sitting back door and buried the goal.
Just minutes later, the Nittany Lions added to their lead with a power play goal. Penn State forward Denis Smirnov received the puck near the blue line and absolutely ripped a wrist shot that flew over the shoulder of Spartan goaltender Ed Minney into the top right corner of the net. Vince Pedrie and Erik Autio were credited with assists for the Nittany Lions.
The Nittany Lions added a third goal with just 50 seconds remaining in the first period. Nittany Lion forward Brandon Biro carried the puck into the offensive zone, took it to the net and eventually passed it to a crashing Sucese, who put it in the top corner for his second goal of the night.
In the last several Spartan games, they have dominated the first period. That was not the case for Saturday’s game. The Nittany Lions outshot the Spartans 13-4 in the first period and dominated in nearly every aspect.
“The first period was completely unacceptable,” freshman forward Sam Saliba said. “Time and time again it’s the same stuff.”
The second period was a little bit dull offensively. The Spartans made it very difficult on themselves to make any kind of comeback as they continued to rack up a number of penalties.
The Nittany Lions once again outshot the Spartans for the second period, but this time it was by a margin of just 11-8.
With just under 10 minutes to go in the third period, freshman forward Patrick Khodorenko got the puck behind the net and skated right towards the net and pushed it into the pads of Penn State goaltender Peyton Jones. The puck became loose and senior forward Villiam Haag was able to clean it up and put the Spartans on the board.
Just a few minutes later, the Nittany Lions once again added to their lead. Penn State took a backhand shot in traffic that hit the pads of Minney and bounced right to the stick of forward Andrew Sturtz, who banged it home to make the game 4-1.
The Spartans really struggled to shoot the puck in Saturday’s game, often missing the net completely on odd man rushes.
“We had a lot of odd man breaks today, and we just couldn’t hit the net and couldn’t create second chances,” Saliba said.
Anastos said that he was incredibly frustrated with his team’s mental errors.
“I thought that we played a not very smart game,” Anastos said. “I thought mentally, our execution was poor, we made poor decisions all over the rink. From an execution standpoint, I can recall five point-blank, player on the goalie chances and we chose either not to shoot the puck or we missed the net.”
In total, the Spartans were outshot by a score of 35-23 for the night.
The Spartans will travel to Columbus next weekend to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes for the second-to-last series of the regular season.