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Michigan State hockey sweeps No. 20 Penn State, jumps in rankings

MSU hockey had a heck of a weekend.

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Michigan State hockey
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State hockey dominated No. 20 Penn State in Happy Valley this weekend and jumped in the PairWise rankings.

Oh, how sweep it is. After an impressive 5-0 shutout on Friday night, Michigan State hockey (14-4-3) was looking to finish its season series against Penn State (10-8-3) with a weekend sweep. The Spartan offense was also looking to continue their impressive showing after shelling the Penn State goalie on Friday night. Freshman goalie Trey Augustine was looking to also build on his second shutout of the year in his second game since winning gold in Sweden.

After the Spartans’ second blowout road win over Penn State, they rise to No. 4 in the PairWise rankings.

Scoring Recap

  • First period

The scoring in this matchup started with something that nobody saw on Friday night, a Penn State goal. The scoring started about five minutes into the game. Aiden Fink, who was a seventh0round pick of the Nashville Predators in 2023, scored his 12th goal of the season. It was a good slapshot from the top of the circle that Augustine just did not see. This was on a powerplay as well which has been a weak spot for the Nittany Lions this season.

The Spartans though would not back down though as five minutes later they responded. Karsten Dorwart took a rebound from a Tanner Kelly shot and provided a highlight reel goal. Dorwart got the puck off the rebound, put it between his legs, and put the shot just above the goalie’s pad to tie the game at 1-1. Dorwart’s goal was his ninth of the season. This has to be one of the best goals the Spartans have scored all season as far as style points go.

This game did not stay tied for long, though. Two minutes later, the Spartans were on the power play when who else but Joey Larson put it home. After a few passes to get the defense out of position, Larson was all alone when he ripped his slap shot. This was Larson’s third goal of the weekend and 14th of the season to make it 2-1.

The Spartans were not done there as they scored once again with four minutes left in the first period. This time, Gavin O’Connell fed his line mate Red Savage for his eighth of the season to make it 3-1. O’Connell needed to make a perfect pass, and he did as Savage banked it in off the backhand. MSU finished the first period by outshooting the Nittany Lions 17-9 as the Penn State defense had no answers to this offense.

  • Second period

After starting the game off as strong as the Spartans did, you would think that they would let up. You would be wrong. Four minutes into the second period, defenseman Artyom Levshunov continued the scoring frenzy when he clapped a shot from the blue line past the goalie. This extended the lead to 4-1. This was Levshunov’s sixth of the season.

A minute later, the offensive explosion continued. O’Connell scored his second of the weekend and added to his assist in the first period. This was O’Connell’s 10th of the year to make it 5-1 with 15 minutes to go in the second. At this point in the game, you could have heard a pin drop as the Penn State crowd was stunned. By this point the only way that the Spartans could have lost would have involved getting in their own way.

Unfortunately, the Spartans did get in their own way with about nine minutes remaining in the second period. Penn State’s Jacques Bouquot snuck one past Trey Augustine to cut the deficit to three goals to make it 5-2.

The scoring did not end there, though. With only two minutes left in the second, Levshunov shared the love with a great pass to Reed Lebster that he snapped past the goaltender. This was Lebster’s fifth of the season, adding to his goal from last night’s game. This increased the lead to 6-2. It was a great response by Michigan State hockey to end the second with a four-goal lead after Penn State momentarily stopped the bleeding.

  • Third period

Penn State came out strong to begin the third. Only two minutes into the third, Christian Berger, had a perfectly aimed shot that beat Augustine on the short side to cut the deficit to three. At this point, this was more for morale than anything else. The goal brought a little bit of life back to a near silent barn to provide the Nittany Lions with hope. This was Berger’s second goal of the season that made it 6-3.

That hope for the Nittany Lions was finally extinguished with about five minutes remaining in the third. Nash Nienhuis, who also scored in Friday night’s game, added another goal to his weekend total. Nienhuis received a great pass from Levshunov that he one timed from the top of the circle. It was a puck that the goalie had no chance of saving. This extended the lead back to four and ended the scoring in a 7-3 win for the Spartans.

Overall

Michigan State hockey ended the weekend exactly the way they would have wanted to. The biggest takeaway from this game must be the offensive domination. MSU made sure that the Nittany Lions never really had a chance to get back into it.

It was also great to see multiple lines getting involved in the scoring to show just how much depth this team has.

The penalty kill also made a big difference in this game. The Spartans were penalized seven times in this game which is concerning. What makes it a little better though is that off of those seven chances, the Spartans only allowed one power play goal. This is something that will need to be addressed though in practice this week. Penn State, while ranked, has struggled on the power play and most teams in the Big Ten will make you pay for it if you give them that many chances.

MSU should celebrate this big weekend sweep. The Spartans will need to carry this energy into a big series next weekend. The boys in green and white will be shifting their attention to a series against Michigan next weekend. The next game will be at Munn next Friday with puck drop at 7 p.m. ET.

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