No. 11 Penn State Upends Spartans in Opener, 4-2

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Michigan State hockey team dropped its first of a two-game series with No. 11/10 Penn State, 4-2, on Friday night at Pegula Ice Arena. Trailing 3-0 late the second period, Taro Hirose and Patrick Khodorenko both scored in a span of 4:23 to cut the Spartans’ deficit to just a goal entering the third period.

The Spartans (6-12-3, 2-7-2-2) peppered Penn State (13-6-2, 5-5-1-1) goaltender Peyton Jones with eight shots in the opening five minutes of the third period, but weren’t able to net the tying goal and PSU’s Liam Folkes scored what proved to be the final tally with 9:17 to play, making it 4-2.

“It was a good hockey game,” MSU head coach Danton Cole said. “Penn state is a good team and they play fast, and I thought our guys did a good job with that. Both teams battled and played physical; it was a good game and we came out on the wrong side of it.

“There’s not too many things I’m disappointed with, other than the score. We have to tighten things up but overall I thought our guys worked hard.”

Penn State got the only goal of the first period as Kevin Kerr got control of the puck after it dribbled out to him in the left circle and got a wrist shot past MSU goaltender Drew DeRidder at the 12:48 mark.

The Spartans weren’t without quality scoring in the opening period. Adam Goodsir hit the post with just over 11 minutes to play, while later on both Dennis Cesana and David Keefer had looks from between the circles in the low slot.

Penn State struck twice in a stretch of less than two minutes to in the first half of the second period to make it 3-0.

Nikita Pavlychev scored on a wraparound off the rush with 13:24 to play in the second. A penalty on the Pavlychev goal gave Penn State a power play and Nate Sucese capitalized with a one-timer from the right circle 1:43 later

The Spartans clawed back starting with just under seven minutes to play in the period. Taro Hirose forced a turnover in the PSU end and got the puck to Mitchell Lewandowski. Lewandowski hit a trailing Khodorenko through the high slot and snapped the puck just under the crossbar for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.

The Spartans got their third power-play opportunity of the period with 2:28 to go and it took them just 10 seconds to make it a one-goal game. Khodorenko won the draw in the left circle back to Hirose, who then got the puck to Dennis Cesana. Cesana gave the puck right back to Hirose where he let a wrister go that deflected off the stick of goaltender Peyton Jones and into the top corner of the net.

The goal upped Hirose’s career point total to 99 (28g, 71a).

Michigan State forced the play in the Penn State end to start the third period with eight shots on goal in the opening five minutes.

Unfortunately, the Spartans couldn’t net they tying goal and Folkes iced the game for Penn State with 9:17 to play.

Penn State, which leads the country in shots on goal per game, outshot the Spartans 39-27.

Both teams were 1-for-5 on the power play.

The two teams will meet again on Saturday at 7 p.m.