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March 15, 2014

Lions fall to Buckeyes, 4-2

Bad position and a lack of moving feet resulted in a couple of collisions between Penn State players against Ohio State on Friday night.

Along with the collisions, the Nittany Lions suffered from a few mental lapses in a 4-2 loss to the Buckeyes in front of 5,727 fans at Pegula Ice Arena.

"I am a little bit disappointed because I would have thought we would come out a lot better than we did," Penn State men's ice hockey coach Guy Gadowsky said. "I think on the mental toughness aspect it was a step back. It was not in the X's and O's, but habits that we didn't do well. We were not sharp with the puck and we didn't play a smooth game."

The Nittany Lions (6-25-2, 2-16-1-0 Big Ten) had six penalties, including a five-minute major for an aggressive crosscheck. However, Ohio State only cashed in on the first of those penalties. It wasn't able to capitalize on a nine-minute stretch to begin the third period in which it had the man advantage.

Just over nine minutes into the first period, Buckeyes forward Ryan Dzingel hit a hard wrist shot from outside the faceoff circle. The puck caromed off the pipe and went past Nittany Lion goalie P.J. Musico.

Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik said his team just wasn't making the simple plays during the power play, especially in the third period.

"One seemed to be good enough tonight," said Rohlik, who saw his team improve to 16-12-5 and 6-8-5-4 in the Big Ten.

Dzingel got his second goal of the game with 3 minutes, 8 seconds gone in the second period. Nick Oddo passed the puck in front of the crease, and Dzingel fired a one-time shot into a wide-open net.

"Ryan Dzingel was fantastic tonight," Gadowsky said. "We didn't have an answer for him. It's not like we didn't expect that; he was tremendous."

Penn State cut the lead in half on a power play goal by Mike Williamson with 5:14 gone in the period. He hit a wrist shot that went about 10 feet into the air and then dropped behind the shoulder of Buckeye goalie Christian Frey.

Penn State seemed to have the momentum, but it didn't last long. Ohio State responded less than two minutes later on a wrist shot by Oddo that sailed over Musico's stick-side shoulder. After the goal, it looked as though Musico was shocked that the puck went in.

"I don't think he was out of position," Gadowksy said. "I think he had trouble picking it up."

Gadowsky said Musico's performance was by no means the reason the Nittany Lions lost. Musico had to make some big saves, several of which came off of two-on-ones or breakaways.

Ohio State got its fourth goal less than 40 seconds later, as Nick Schilkey pushed the puck over the line after a scramble in front of the net.

Penn State tried aggressively to get back into the game, pulling Musico with more than three minutes remaining. Jonathan Milley scored his first goal of the season on a wrist shot with 1:55 to go. But the comeback effort fell short, as Penn State lost to the Buckeyes for the third time this season.

Musico finished with 26 saves in his third start of the season. All told, Penn State outshot Ohio State 42-30.

The teams will meet again at 3 p.m. Saturday. It will be the final game of the regular season, and Penn State will salute its seniors.

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