The fourth-seeded Penn State Nittany Lions (18-14-4, 10-9-1 Big Ten) saw their season end with a 3-1 loss to the fifth-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes (13-18-3, 8-11-1 Big Ten) in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
A big first period gave the Buckeyes an early lead that the Lions could not match, despite the long-awaited return of Hobey Baker nominee Taylor Holstrom, whose season was thought to be over after an injury to the knee in the loss at Ohio State on February 28.
Nick Schilkey scored on Ohio State’s first shot at 8:01. David Gust, who would go on to have his first two-point game of the season, picked up the assist.
The Buckeyes stretched their lead to 2-0 after Justin DaSilva slipped behind the Nittany Lions’ defense and rocketed a shot past netminder Eamon McAadam. Tanner Fritz and Clark Cristofoli were credited with the helpers.
Max Gardiner put Penn State on the board 9:38 into the second period, converting a pass from linemate Tommy Olczyk into a rocket that flew past Ohio State goaltender Christian Frey and cutting the Buckeye lead to one.
Gust would come back at the Nittany Lions with a breakaway goal with one minute remaining in the second period to finalize the two-point lead for Ohio State.
The Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes went back and forth for 18:20 in the third period with no scoring action, despite excellent chances for both teams.
With 1:40 remaining in the final period, Penn State head coach and Big Ten Coach of the Year Guy Gadowsky pulled McAdam for the extra skater, but it was not enough, and the Buckeyes skated out with the win.
The Nittany Lions owned the attempts on goal with a 32-29 shot advantage.
Penn State ended its third season as a Division I team with a final record of 18-4-4, the first winning season in program history. The team played in four NHL arenas (Consol Energy Center, Wells Fargo Arena, Madison Square Garden, and Joe Louis Arena).
Ohio State will advance to the next round of the Big Ten Tournament and face off against first-seeded Minnesota on Friday at 4:30. The game will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network.
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