UNIVERSITY PARK - The Penn State men's hockey team is closing out its inaugural season at the Pegula Ice Arena with a double dip against Ohio State.
The objective coming into the season series finale for the Nittany Lions and coach Guy Gadowsky is to go out a winner on home ice and gain some momentum heading into the Big Ten Tournament, beginning next Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Unfortunately, for Gadowsky and company, any momentum built will have to wait until the season finale thanks to the strong play of the visiting Buckeyes.
Sentinel photo by CHRISTOPHER SHANNON
Penn State’s Taylor Holstrom, center, and Ohio State’s Al McLean, left, chase down a loose puck during PSU’s 4-2 setback against the Buckeyes Friday evening at Pegula Ice Arena.
Ohio State got two goals and an assist from Ryan Dzingel and used a three-goal second period to defeat Penn State 4-2 in a Big Ten clash Friday evening in Hockey Valley.
The Buckeyes improved to 16-12-5 overall and 6-8-5-4 in the Big Ten, while the Nittany Lions fell to 6-25-2 and 2-16-1 in the conference.
"I'm definitely not happy. At the same time you have to give them credit," Gadowsky said. "Ryan Dzingel was fantastic tonight. He made a real nice play on the first goal and he made a tremendous play on their fourth goal. We didn't have an answer for him.
"I don't think we were very smart penalty wise. We didn't play a good enough or smart enough game. We put ourselves in positions to take penalties. I thought that was the big difference in the game. We gave them six power plays. You can't do that against a team like Ohio State."
The Buckeyes opened the scoring on a hard slapper by Dzingel just behind the right face-off dot for the power-play goal, beating P.J. Musico five-hole. The Ottawa Senators draft pick scored his 19th of the season on a nifty cross-ice pass from Max McCormick at 9:07. Tanner Fritz recorded the second assist.
Ohio State missed an opportunity for its second goal of the period when Fritz's wrister at 16:25 hit the pipe.
Penn State had several chances in the first period but failed to get through the defense of goalie Christian Frey (7-3-3), who finished with 40 saves.
"It's what he's done since he's come in from Christmas break. He doesn't say a lot. This is just the way he plays," Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik said. "He certainly has given our team every opportunity to win every game he's been in. I tip my hat to him."
Zach Sarr had a point-blank shot at 12:25 and Jonathan Milley had two chances in the slot at 18:25 and 18:18, but came up empty.
Dzingel tallied his second of the game and 20th of the season at the 3:08 mark of the second period. Nick Oddo drove to the net and dished the puck to a wide-open Dzingel, who scored from the right crease. Nick Schilkey recorded the second assist.
"The numbers speak for themselves. Tonight he (Dzingel) happened to get some points. He had a couple nice goals," Rohlik said. "He's a team player. He would be the first to tell you he doesn't really care if he gets on the score sheet or not, as long as we win the game. He's a big time player who showed up in a big time game."
Good things happen when you attack the net. The Nittany Lions attacked Frey and the result was a power-play goal by Mike Williamson, his second of the season, at the 5:14 mark to cut the deficit to 2-1. Eric Scheid recorded the assist.
The warm, fuzzy feelings Penn State and the home crowd had evaporated quickly when the Buckeyes added two goals in a span of 35 seconds to take a commanding 4-1 advantage.
"The third goal they got was big. It was the turning point in the game," Gadowsky said. "It took the wind out of our sales. The momentum definitely shifted in their favor. There was no good reason for it. We just weren't clicking tonight. We have to end the season on a strong note getting ready for the Big Ten championships. We need to bounce back and play a better game against Ohio State (today)."
Oddo got the first one a two-on-one breakaway at 6:50, assisted by Schilkey and Curtis Geddig. The goal was Oddo's eighth of the season. At 7:25, Schilkey tallied goal number 12 on the season with an assists from Dzingel and Josh Healey. The Buckeye freshman had a three-point night with a goal and two assists.
"It was huge to get the two goals after they scored. It was huge to respond the way we did. We did a nice job there." Rohlik said
Musico (24 saves) and the Nittany Lion penalty kill unit had to work overtime in the third period as Ohio State had three consecutive power plays, one a five-minute major, but failed to score a goal.
On the third Buckeye power play, Penn State defenseman Tommy Olyczyk had a breakaway short-handed attempt thwarted by Frey, who stuffed Olyczyk with his right blocker pad. It was typical of the evening the Lions had with their missed opportunities all over the ice.
Penn State closed out the scoring at 18:05 of the third when Jonathan Milley potted his first of the season with an extra attacker in play. David Thompson and David Goodwin had the assists. Milley led the Nittany Lions with eight shots.
"This was by far the best game he (Milley) has played all season. He scored his first goal, had eight shots on net, was a plus one and he forechecked well," Gadowsky said. "He was getting shots on net. He was going to net. He played a great game."
Penn State outshot Ohio State 42-30.
The Nittany Lions close out the regular season with the second game of the series against the Buckeyes at 3 p.m. today. Mike McDonagh will be honored at Senior Day before the season finale.