No. 19 Spartans Drop OT Battle With No. 9 Penn State, 2-1

Michigan State University
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EAST LANSING – No. 19 Michigan State and No. 9 Penn State were even through 60 minutes on Saturday at a sold-out Munn Arena, but Connor McMenamin’s goal 39 seconds into overtime broke the tie and gave the Nittany Lions a 2-1 win. The Spartans (13-12-1, 9-6-1-0) outshot PSU 36-22 over the final two periods, including putting 19 on goal in final 20 minutes.

“That’s probably one of the better games we’ve played all year,” MSU head coach Danton Cole said. “We had 43 shots on net and usually that’s good for two goals and that would’ve been good for a win tonight.”

Trailing 1-0 after 40 minutes, Penn State (17-8-1, 9-6-1-0) started the third period with 1:25 of power-play time. PSU controlled the opening faceoff and got into the Spartan zone, but gave up the puck at the right point. Tommy Apap was on the spot as he picked up the loose puck and raced the other way. In all alone on goaltender Peyton Jones, Apap snapped a low shot past the netminder at the 23 second mark to tie the game.

“As a staff we’re really proud of the way the guys played. Down 1-0 going into the third, they battled and played hard, just couldn’t get to the second one before they did.”

The game-winner came when after a blocked shot, the puck bounced out to McMenamin in the slot and he snapped it past John Lethemon.

After a scoreless first period, the Spartans had several swarming chances in the second and outshot the Nittany Lions 17-10 in the stanza. Several of the scoring opportunities came off scrums around the crease, but the Spartans were never able to slip the puck past Jones.

Penn State eventually broke the stalemate with 43 seconds to play in the period when Nate Sucese came out of the right corner with the puck and fired it toward the net where it deflected off Christian Krygier’s hip and past Lethemon.

MSU went 0-for-3 on the power play as it had a chance in all three periods. PSU was 0-for-1.

MSU outshot PSU 43-33 for the game.

Saturday’s sellout crowd of 6,586 fans was the largest at Munn since March 13, 2015. It was the second straight on the weekend over 6,000.

“The crowd was great, it was loud,” Cole said. “The hockey was good there was blocked shots, and hits, and exciting plays around the nets, even though there wasn’t a ton of goals. This is what we want this place to be like, and our fans have been great. The students have kind of been leading the charge and we’re getting more and more games that are like this.”

The Spartans, who are tied with Penn State with 28 points apiece in the Big Ten standings, have a bye next weekend and will return to action at Minnesota, Feb. 7-8.