Nobody is really sure how good of a team Penn State actually is. They’ve beaten up on lower ranked teams, but they’ve beaten them, which is all you can ask for. They shoot at will and do enough to win. At least on most night. Because No. 11 Ohio State found a way to keep coming back in Happy Valley to down the No. 1/2 Nittany Lions in a shootout, 2-1.
Penn State came into the game just 3-2-1 against top 30 ranked teams, including a split at Ohio State on January 6th and 7th. They are, however, 13-0 against the bottom 30 ranked teams in the country, so they may not be quite the behemoth their No. 1/2 ranking would indicate. Ohio State showed that they could be beaten by quality competition yet again on Friday night.
The Buckeyes have now won two out of three games versus Penn State this season, with their 3-0 win on January 6th opening the season series and a 4-2 PSU win following that the day after.
Ohio State has had their problems with attacking hockey and generating shot attempts and scoring chances against pretty much any opponent, quality or not, recently, and that continued on Friday night. Penn State, as they’re wont to do as they are a team known for nothing if not firing from anywhere they can.
PSU generated 59 shots on goal in the game to Ohio State’s 27. Shooting from anywhere can only account for so much. That is a ridiculous possession percentage and the first period may have been the most embarrassing period of the year for Ohio State. Escaping from it down only 1-0 was a miracle the likes of which the team desperately needed to have a chance in this game.
OSU was outshot by a count of 24-3 in the first period. You read that right. Penn State had 24 shots. Ohio State had three.
Christian Frey kept Ohio State’s hopes alive somehow, stopping all but one of the Nittany Lion shots, a goal by James Robinson at 7:48 of the first frame. That’d be one of many missed opportunities for Penn State in this one as they had a chance to step on Ohio State’s collective throat and just couldn’t do it.
The second period would be slightly more egalitarian, to Ohio State’s liking, as the shots were 12-12 in the period. Ohio State survived the initial domination and onslaught to come back and play with the No. 1/2 team fairly evenly in the second. And if you’re getting even shots against Penn State, who will shoot from any possible place, inflating their possession stats, you’re probably outplaying them.
Josh Healey was the one who tied the game up for Ohio State, with a goal at 12:21 of the second, with assists going to David Gust and Dakota Joshua. He got a feed from Gust to the open slot to the right of PSU goalie Peyton Jones and fired it in.
Alas, Penn State would strike with just 1:34 remaining in the second to go into intermission with the lead. Vince Pedrie’s tally made it 2-1 in favor of Penn State as the teams headed to the dressing room, but Ohio State had to like how much it improved in the period as compared to the horror show of the first.
OSU would be outshot 18-10 in the third period, a less dominating showcase than you would think due to Penn State’s propensity to shoot from the moon if it lands on goal. And the scoring in the period would bear that out for Ohio State.
For the second time in the game, Ohio State closed a one goal gap and tied it, this time with a Mason Jobst tally at 6:53 of the third. He put in his own rebound to tie it, with assists going to Miguel Fidler and Matt Weis.
Penn State didn’t like this development, however, and decided to get their lead back just a few minutes later. At 12:41 of the third, they went back up by a goal and made it 3-2. Alec Marsh was the one who found some room past Frey and put PSU back up once again.
Jobst really wanted to have an ultimately game tying goal, though, and tied it up once again at 13:59 with his second of the night. Joshua and Gust both had their second assists of the night on the tying goal that would send the game to overtime and a shootout.
Penn State would be granted a powerplay in overtime on a Kevin Miller hooking penalty and outshot OSU 5-2 in the extra frame, but Frey stoned them. He ended overtime with 56 saves on 59 shots. That’s a .949 save percentage. He’d have to be Martin Brodeur crossed with Dominik Hasek to get anywhere near that on a regular basis.
The shootout is where Ohio State finally would end up with their first lead of the game.
The first four rounds would consist of nothing but misses, as OSU and PSU traded everything but goals. Jobst, Weis, Gust and John Wiitala all missed for Ohio State, while Ricky DeRosa, Andrew Sturtz, Denis Smirnov and Pedrie did the same for the Nittany Lions.
The fifth round is where things went off the rails. Brandon Biro finally broke the scoreless shootout tie and looked to one more save from Jones to send the Nittany Lions home with a victory. Joshua said no and tied it up. A pretty good time for their first shootout goal of the night.
Nate Sucese would then miss for PSU, with Kevin Miller doing the same for OSU. David Goodwin, who was the player sent off for the penalty that led to the powerplay Jobst tied the game on, also missed and then something good happened.
Sam McCormick, the freshman from De Pere, Wisconsin, sent Ohio State home with a win, scoring on Jones and giving Ohio State the win over the No. 1/2 Nittany Lions.
The two teams will battle once again on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET in Happy Valley. Ohio State can’t do any more than hope for a better first period with the same outcome.