DETROIT- Penn State's first-ever NCAA Tournament bid is going to have to wait another year.
The Nittany Lions, the 4th seed in the 2015 Big Ten tournament, fell 3-1 Thursday afternoon to fifth seed Ohio State in a Big Ten quarterfinal at Joe Louis Arena. The Buckeyes scored two goals in the first two periods on breakaways caused by poor line changes and held on to the lead in the third period.
With the win, Ohio State will face top-seed Minnesota on Friday afternoon. A rematch of sorts, the Buckeyes upset the Gophers in last year's Big Ten tournament semifinal.
It took a while, but OSU head coach Steve Rohlik's squad weathered the early storm. Christian Frey was able stop an Eric Scheid breakaway attempt in the opening couple, to take a 1-0 lead 8:01 into the game. David Gust was able to come up with the puck in a scrum along the boards. He then found Nick Schilkey left all alone in the middle of the ice and Schilkey scored his 10th goal of the year.
Six minutes later Buckeyes captain Tanner Fritz found Justin Dasilva open on a Penn State line change and the senior defenseman unleashed a slap shot from the blue line which beat McAdam. Despite Penn State out-shooting the Buckeyes 8-3 over the first 14 minutes, the Nittany Lions trailed 2-0.
Frey stood tall, making 28 saves and shutting out PSU until in a blink of an eye redshirt senior Max Gardiner scored his second goal in as many games during the second period. Gardiner shot the puck hard enough that it went in and out of the net before Gust made it 3-1 with a minute remaining in the second period.
Away from another bad line change by Penn State, Sam Jardine found Gust on a two line pass. He did the rest, beating McAdam on the ensuing breakaway.
Although the Nittany Lions had chances in the opening minutes of the third period, out-shooting OSU 10-8 over the final twenty minutes, they
PSU goalie Eamon McAdam made 28 saves Thursday. In a first in Big Ten conference tournament history, neither team had a power play.
All-SB Nation Big Ten second team forward Taylor Holstrom returned much sooner from a lower body injury suffered against the Buckeyes when the two teams played in early March, however, he wasn't a factor in Thursday's game. The injury still affected him. Sadly senior defenseman Nate Jensen joined Holstrom on the injury shelf late in the game when he had to be helped off the ice with 6:14 remaining.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate