Big Ten Roundup: Big Night for Penn State Seniors
Minnesota Back Alone in 1st
CHN Staff Report
Senior David Goodwin tied a career-high with four points on two goals and two assists as Penn State earned a 6-0 victory over Wiscosnin.
In fact, it was the night for all of the seniors to shine, and they did, appropriately, on Senior Night, the last game at Pegula Ice Arena for the team this season, and ever for that group.
"Love the seniors and love the community seeing this place packed again was fun," an emotional Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said.
With the game in hand late, Gadowsky put out the five senior skaters at the same time for a power play.
"Four of our six goals were scored by seniors," Gadowsky said. "You dream about those things. It was just great."
Said Goodwin, "It was a very special night, can't believe it's over here at Pegula, we went out on about as high a note as possible."
The win was huge for the Nittany Lions, the second time it's come through when needed against Wisconsin. Last month, reeling after a few losses, Penn State went to Madison and swept the Badgers to right the ship and fortify its placement in the Pairwise. Now, coming off a loss Friday and seeing the possibility of slipping farther towards the NCAA bubble again, instead Penn State turned it around and moved up to No. 9, and at this point has all but locked up an NCAA spot. The Lions' chances are about 98 percent according to CHN's Pairwise Probability Matrix.
"It's an honor to play really meaningful games in March, it's stressful, but it's fun," Gadowsky said.
Freshman Peyton Jones tied a career-high with 36 saves while earning his second shutout of the season to improve to 19-7-2.
Wisconsin slipped behind Minnesota, once again, by three points in the race for first place in the Big Ten, with one regular-season weekend remaining. It did stay in the top 14 of the Pairwise, however.
"I think their goalie made big saves when we had chances to get back in the game," Wisconsin coach Tony Granato said. "We had plenty of chances around their net, obviously, we would have liked to start better but they came at us pretty good and deserved to win.
"We tried to open up more offensively as the game went on and that led to more mistakes defensively. We didn't make the most of our chances, we had opportunities to stay in the game in the first two periods and in the third we tried to open it up more and it led to their goals."
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Ohio State got a power-play goal from Dakota Joshua in the third period to finally get the lead it would not relinquish in a 5-3 win over Michigan State, earning a weekend split.
"When you look at games, usually the team that wins special teams wins the game," Rohlik said. "But we have to be a better team 5-on-5, and we're becoming a team that's understanding it takes a lot of work 5-on-5 to get to the dirty areas. And I think if we can improve that area and improve the PK, our best hockey is ahead of us."
Three times OSU took a lead, and three times Michigan State — which earned the upset win Friday — came back to tie. Joshua's goal was his 10th of the season. Nick Schilkey added an empty netter, his 26th goal of the year, most for Ohio State since 1997.
“We tried to keep it light," Schilkey said. "We were trying to have fun tonight. We know that we got challenged last night to come back and play a better team game. We knew what was on the line and I think we just continued to play a team game. We were confident and that is why we could go out there and get the job done.”
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Minnesota bounced back from Friday's loss to defeat Michigan, 4-1, on Saturday in Ann Arbor. The win moved Minnesota three points ahead of Wisconsin once again in the race for first place in the Big Ten with one weekend remaining. Minnesota has won the first three regular-season titles in the league's history.
"We played the game the right way tonight, you could see that from the get-go," Minnesota coach Lucia said. "It was a good team win. Our goaltender played well, the guys we needed to score scored and the guys we needed to block shots and defend did that."
Rem Pitlick, Tyler Sheehy and Leon Bristedt scored for the Gophers. Sheehy later added an empty netter for his 20th goal of the season.