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Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Score Four In Second Period To Beat Michigan State 4-2

by on December 04, 2015 9:50 PM

Heading into Friday night there was little doubt that Penn State hockey had been playing well. An 8-2-3 record and a program best-ever start spoke for itself.

But there was a question, no matter how small, if the Nittany Lions could bring their No. 5 rated offense to Big Ten play and produce goals on a stage against stiffer competition. Perhaps more importantly, if they could bring a defense that would give them a shot each and every night. The strong start was well earned, but undeniably against a different brand of team.

And during an offensive explosion in the second period Penn State answered that question loud and clear.

Yes.

"We didn't do a good job taking the air out of the momentum," Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said. "And that was the game."

It was a four goal barrage that turned a scoreless and relatively even game into a one-sided affair over the span of just minutes late Friday evening.

In fact it took 10 seconds into the frame for Andrew Sturtz to take a mishandled puck by Spartan goalie Jake Hildebrand and slam it home for a 1-0 lead. Hildebrand was coming off a 13 save first period, stopping several key opportunities in the opening 20 minutes of play including a few point blank chances late in the frame.

"I thought Hildebrand handled the puck really well and we couldn't get anything going in the first period," Penn State coach Guy Gadowksy said after the game. "We were fortunate to have some bounces go our way in the second period."

From there Penn State continued to hum along in the offensive zone and 11:49 later David Goodwin punched home a power play tally to put Penn State up 2-0 and give the Nittany Lions a more comfortable lead. Just four minutes after that Sturtz glided into the offensive zone and handled a puck past a sprawling Hildebrand for his second of the period and 8th of the 2015 campaign.

"I love watching that guy, I do. He has a huge heart." Gadowsky said.

If that wasn't enough, Vince Pedrie swept a loose puck into a wide open net to make it three goals in just over four minutes of play to blow the evening's proceedings wide open. Despite the onslaught Michigan State managed 12 shots on goal and several quality chances that could have turned the tide as Matthew Skoff was strong in net making 20 saves through two periods and fighting off several pucks in traffic. Skoff made one particular impressive stop rolling on his back and reach out his arm blindly to stop the puck.

"I have no idea if he even got a shot off," Skoff said. "I just saw him kick the puck to his skate across the crease and I rolled towards it."

The third period was more of the same although it was Michigan State adding two late tallies to snap the scoreless drought by Penn State opponents over just over 170 minutes of play. The Nittany Lions killed off a 16th consecutive power play in the third period, a lone bright spot in a 20 minute frame largely dominated by the Spartans.

"I'm very happy with the result but I feel bad for Skoff," Gadowksy said after the game. "He deserved a better effort in the third period, that was all on us. Michigan State outplayed us, give them a lot of credit too. It's not one individual, it's the group."

On the stat sheet Penn State registered 44 shots on goal while Skoff made 33 saves in net. The Nittany Lions killed off Michigan State's only man advantage while Penn State went 1-for-5 of the night converted on the second power play of the evening. Andrew Sturtz paced Penn State with seven shots on goal two goals and an assists for a +3 night.

Penn State improves to 9-2-3 on the year and 19-4-4 at home over the past two seasons. Both teams will hit the ice tomorrow for a puck drop just after 3:00 PM. No starting goaltender has been named but it is expected that Eamon McAdam will get the nod in goal as Penn State continues to split time between the two hot netminders.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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