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Penn State Hockey Falls 6-3 To Ohio State In Columbus

on January 08, 2021 7:30 PM

When it's all said and done, there are only so many ways to score goals in hockey, but sometimes it can get repetitive.

And as the Nittany Lions fell 5-2 on Friday night, it was deja vu. If you've seen Penn State give up a goal before, you probably saw the goals it gave up on Friday night in Columbus.

The first goal was the dreaded breakaway just 2:20 into regulation as Austin Pooley raced down the middle of the ice, a pass splitting defenders and springing him towards Penn State goaltender Oskar Autio. Pooley buried the shot.

Collin Peters added another six minutes later, a redirection in front dribbling its way past Autio and just across the line. A nice rip by Jimmy Dowd would get the Nittany Lions on the board late in the opening period while up a man, but Penn State's uphill sledding felt far from over.

This was all the more evident just 1:30 into the second period as Ohio State extended its lead to 3-1 early in the frame. The Buckeyes were outshot 20-6 in the middle period thanks in large part to three Penn State power plays in the period. Despite the advantage, only Aarne Talvitie's shot with just over two minutes to go in the frame would find the back of the net.

Nevertheless, a 3-2 Ohio State margin meant the final 20 minutes would carry plenty of drama. In theory.

Headed to the locker room, the Nittany Lions had to feel good about their chances down just a single goal and nearly doubling the shot count against a Ohio State team that has had as many issues as Penn State. There was no crowd to contend with, no major momentum headed in any direction but towards the Buckeye goal.

For a team that needed to turn its season around in the early stages of the second half of the year, this was a chance to do just that.

But then it happened again, a pass intercepted in Ohio State's defensive zone went for a goal the other way, Quinn Preston scoring on a partial 2-on-1/breakaway just 1:20 into the final period. And just like that it was 4-2.

Two minutes later Ohio State made it 5-2, Travis Treloar ripping home a wide open shot from between the dots while on the man advantage.

Evan Bell would add one in the game's final minutes to make it 5-3, but it was a formality at that point. An empty net goal by the Buckeyes in the final seconds ensuring just that despite being outshot 43-21 by game's end.

For Penn State the Nittany Lions continue to slide in the PairWise rankings outside of the NCAA Tournament bubble and find themselves effectively out of the Big Ten race and in real danger of finishing last in the conference.

All told this will not sit will with coach Guy Gadowsky nor a team that is youthful but not without talent. What might sit well with them even less is the fact that the goals seem so familiar. The odd man rushes, the breakaways and the shots between the dots. There are only so many ways to score, but Penn State hockey's issues with those kinds of goals transcend just one down year. 

Some of this is the product of the style of play the Nittany Lions implement, a style that has been without argument, wildly successful. Much of it is inconsistent defense, sloppy offense and lack of consistency that will doom even the most talented teams.

At the end of the day trends are trends, and Penn State isn't trending in the right direction at this moment in time. But fortunately for the Nittany Lions, they won't have to wait long, taking the ice again on Saturday evening, less than 24 hours from the final buzzer.

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