Michigan State defeated Penn State, 3-2, on Jan. 18, 2014 at Munn Ice Arena (Photo c/o www.msuspartans.com)
The Nittany Lions erased a pair of one-goal deficits last Saturday at Michigan State, but were unable to breakthrough as the Spartans beat PSU, 3-2, to complete the weekend sweep.
Six games into Big Ten play, Penn State is still searching for their first Big Ten victory. The Lions are 0-6-0-0 in conference play and sit 4-14-1 overall. Guy Gadowsky's squad has lost 11 of its last 12 games played. Their lone victories have come against mediocre teams in Army, Sacred Heart, and Robert Morris twice.
It took only 93 seconds for the Spartans to get on the board last Saturday as Michael Ferrantino slid a backhand shot under the pads of Eamon McAdam for the 1-0 lead.
McAdam, who fell to 0-7-0 on the season, made 29 stops in the contest and I thought overall played a real solid game. He kept the Lions in the game throughout and has played well over in his last three starts. You can see the potential McAdam has and see why the Islanders selected the Perkasie, PA native in the third round last year.
The speedy Taylor Holstrom would respond with 27.3 seconds left in the opening frame after tipping Luke Juha's point shot past Spartan goaltender Jake Hildebrand. That goal stopped Hildebrand's shutout streak of nearly 80 minutes.
The night before (Friday Jan 17th), Hildebrand made a career high 48 stops and was absolutely terrific in net shutting out PSU 3-0. Hildebrand took over the starting job in mid-November last season and went on to have a terrific rookie campaign that saw him post a 9-17-2 record, including two shutouts. He also posted a .928 save percentage, which placed him 14th nationally.
The Butler, PA native has a 7-8-3 record on the season. Hildebrand displayed last Friday his ability to keep Michigan State in every game they play. His unflappable composure in net is special. He did attend New Jersey Devils prospect camp this past summer and I would expect him to be a late round draft pick this June.
Back to Saturday's game.
MSU would take a 2-1 lead at the 7:06 mark of the second period as Tanner Sorenson slipped a shot under McAdam's pads after a nice centering feed from Greg Wolfe.
The Lions would battle back to even the score thanks to Eric Scheid's powerplay goal 1:18 into the third period. After a beautiful cross-ice pass from Luke Juha, Scheid buried a wrist shot past Hildebrand for his team leading ninth goal of the season.
Lee Reimer, who had a goal and two assists in Friday’s victory, netted the eventual game-winning goal with 16:19 remaining in the third period. Mark Yanis' five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting MSU's Villiam Haag from behind with 5:23 to play in the game crushed any hopes of a comeback for the Lions. That was the fifth time this season a Penn State player has been assessed a game misconduct and the second time Yanis has been tossed from a game this season. You won't win many games taking dumb penalties like that.
Yanis was suspended one game by the Big Ten Conference for the hit.
After playing two solid games against the No.1 Minnesota Golden Gophers two weeks ago, I really thought PSU had a chance to take both games at MSU.
However, I was wrong.
Just when you think this team is going in the right direction they have a poor performance and take a step back. They're a young squad and still have a ton of maturing to do. It doesn't get any easier as the Lions host No.2 Boston College this Saturday at Pegula.
The Eagles sit 17-4-3 overall and are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games played and beat Merrimack (score) on Tuesday. If you recall, BC beat PSU 8-2 back on Dec. 28th in the Three Rivers Classic and thoroughly dominated throughout. Defenseman Steve Santini (NJD) and Ian McCoshen (FLA), along with goalie Thatcher Demko (Top rated goalie for 2014 Draft) are all expected to play Saturday. All three were representing Team USA at the World Juniors the last time these two clubs met.
Carney's Point, NJ native and Calgary Flames prospect Johnny Gaudreau leads the nation in scoring with 21 goals and 27 assists for 48 points in 24 games played. Gaudreau is the favorite to win the Hobey Baker Trophy this season as college hockey's top player.
It's going to be incredibly tough for Penn State to hang with Boston College. They did managed to play with Minnesota two weeks ago so I guess anything is possible. I don't expect PSU to win, but I do expect them to come out and make a game of it. I think this game could be closer than some people think.
Look for McAdam to get the nod in goal and a possible goal sighting from Max Gardiner (STL) and Casey Bailey. Those two players are slumping badly and something has to give.
All in all it should be a fun weekend in Happy Valley.
You can follow Tom Zulewski on Twitter @T_Zulewski91
Recruiting Trail Update
* Forwards Denis Smirnov (Indiana Ice, USHL), Nikita Pavlychev (Wilkes Barre/Scranton Knights U18), Andy Sturtz (Carleton Place Canadians, CCHL) and Matt Mendelson (Muskegon Lumberjacks, USHL) have all committed to Penn State for 2015-16.
*Defenseman Steven Ruggiero (Youngstown Phantoms) has committed to Penn State as well for 2015-2016.
* Kimball Union Academy (NH) forward AJ Greer, who was originally committed to Penn State, has committed to Boston University for 2015-16.