STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Matt Berry had just the 12th shot of the game for Michigan State, but that’s all the Spartans needed to finish off Penn State.
Berry found the rebound of Matt Skoffs’ save just inside the crease and backhanded a shot nearly on top of the Penn State goaltender, going top shelf for the game-winner.
With Berry’s goal, Michigan State (9-13-7, 3-5-6-4 Big Ten) defeated Penn State (5-19-2, 1-10-1-0 Big Ten), 2-1, this afternoon on the road at Pegula Ice Arena.
Michigan State had just five shots going into the third period with the score knotted at one apiece.
Anchored by Jake Hildebrand’s 28 saves, the Spartans’ defense kept the Nittany Lions out of the net for the majority of the game, despite letting up an early first-period goal.
“Credit Hildebrand, he played very, very well; their team did a great job blocking shots,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “I think they are the best shot-blocking team that we have played this year.”
Penn State was first on the board just 43 seconds into the contest as Patrick Koudys’ shot from the point found its way through traffic and was deflected to give the Lions a 1-0 lead in the first period.
The Lions outshot Michigan State, 22-5, going into the third period, but could not get their shots past Hildebrand.
“Certainly we had a hard time matching the level of play of Penn State today,” Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said. “We were just hanging around and made the right plays at the right time to figure out a way to win the game. Winning ugly is OK once in awhile.”
Despite the lack of offensive production early, the Spartans caught a break when Joe Cox’s shot took a fortunate bounce for Michigan State off the skate of a Penn State defender and into the net to tie the game 1-1 halfway through the second period.
“It is disappointing; we could have done better on those goals, they certainly weren’t Skoffs’ fault,” Penn State forward Kenny Brooks said. “I mean, it’s 13 shots and two goals, he played a great game and saved us a couple times. We needed to get sticks in front a couple times and we didn’t.”
After a tie and shootout victory last night over the Lions, Michigan State came out rather flat in the first two periods, but seemed to make up for it in the third.
The Spartans outshot Penn State 8-7 in the third period, and had their best opportunities coming midway through the third period when Lee Reimer won the faceoff that forced back-to-back-to-back shots by Michigan State that would not fall.
“I think that they really played a very smart road game,” Gadowsky said. “They didn’t give up a ton. You weren’t going to get any odd-man rushes on them the way they were playing. Certainly in the defensive zone, they block everything.”
Despite Michigan State’s late goal, Penn State controlled the pace for the majority of the game, outshooting the Spartans 29-13.
The Lions did attempt the comeback, emptying the net with 1:31 to play and rattling off four shots to close out the game, but none of them could get past the Michigan State defense.