EAST LANSING, Mich. — After scoring two goals within a span of three minutes late in the first period, Michigan State held on to beat Penn State, 3-0, in the first-ever league game between the new conference rivals. The game was also the first shutout in Big Ten history, with sophomore Jake Hildebrand earning his second shutout of the season, the fourth of his career.
“I thought we played well in parts of our game,” said Michigan State coach Tom Anastos. “In other parts, we really relied on our goaltender. We need to. We know that. He really stood tall. I would like to need to, less.”
If the first Big Ten shutout isn’t novel enough, three Spartans were responsible for every point registered in tonight’s contest. Dean Chelios, Greg Wolfe and Lee Reimer each registered a goal, and each recorded two assists.
Chelios and Wolfe scored less than three minutes apart late in the first to give the Spartans at 2-0 lead after one. In the second and third periods, though, the Nittany Lions outshot the Spartans, 27-14 — 48-29 overall in the game — and Anastos said that he didn’t feel comfortable in the game until Reimer’s goal at 15:08 gave Michigan State the 3-0 lead.
“I thought we got a little sloppy toward the latter part of the game,” said Anastos. “Before that, I guess, in the early part of the second period, I thought they pretty much took over the momentum of the game. I thought we started getting away from doing little things that we were doing in the first period.”
For their part, the Nittany Lions played well — after the first period, said coach Guy Gadowsky.
“We weren’t energized in the first,” said Gadowsky. “I don’t know why. We weren’t into it like we have to be into it.
“After that, I thought we played well. Give Hildebrand a lot of credit because I thought he made some really nice saves. It sort of felt as if we got one, we could really come back into it, but he held them in. I’m not disappointed with how we played in the second and third, but in my mind, we lost the game in the first period.”
On his first goal of the season, Chelios picked up Reimer’s rebound at 14:38 and backhanded it past Matthew Skoff from the right side of the net. At 17:36, Wolfe found the puck in a scramble in the crease and backhanded the puck in from the left.
At 15:08 in the third, Reimer took a pass from Wolfe, crossed the crease, and one-timed it past Skoff for the final goal of the game.
While Anastos was happy with the win, he wasn’t completely satisfied with how the Spartans executed.
“In the first period, we gave up three or four odd-man rushes,” said Anastos. “That’s not acceptable.
“They attack very quickly. We knew that coming in. We were prepared for that. We talked about it a lot. They’re very well-organized, very well-coached and they play very hard. We want to get in on the forecheck. We want to make sure our five guys are involved to keep possession in the offensive zone, if possible.”
The Nittany Lions (4-13-1, 0-5-5-0 Big Ten) and Spartans (7-10-3, 1-2-2-2 Big Ten) face off again in Munn Ice Arena at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.