Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's hockey has officially punched its ticket to the Big Ten semifinals, beating Minnesota for the fourth consecutive time Saturday night.
While the Nittany Lions swept the Gophers just last weekend, there were no guarantees Penn State would be able to beat them twice more.
"Minnesota is a tremendous team," Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "[We] sure put it together and with the help of the crowd, [we] turned out to beat an excellent team in a series. It feels really good."
Playing in front of a home ice crowd for the first and second time in program history turned out to be a valuable piece of Penn State's quarterfinal-sweep.
While Penn State was only granted home ice last weekend, the attendance question quickly arose as many students members of the community had already made plans to leave Happy Valley for spring break.
Proving just how passionate they are, both students and community members still packed Pegula Ice Arena to create an environment that give Penn State the boost it needed to pull off the win.
"Home ice turned out to be massive," Gadowsky said "We never would have gotten home ice if it wasn't for our crowd and I don't think we [would've had] a shot tonight it if wasn't for them. We can't thank the students and the community enough for their support tonight. They were absolutely huge."
Compared to last year, when the Blue and White beat Michigan in a nearly empty Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, winning in front of a sea of cheering fans dressed in blue and white, only made the night that much sweeter.
Celebrating the big win on home ice made only made for an even more special memory for the veteran Nittany Lions who went through the tournament last year. However, the upperclassmen know there's still a long road to the Big Ten Championship game.
"[The fans] definitely helped us pick up the win," sophomore forward Liam Folkes said. "It's always better when the crowd is louder, but we have a long way to go and we're not done yet."
Senior captain James Robinson has also been through the gauntlet of the tournament, but tonight, he played a pivotal role in making sure his team advanced to the next round. Robinson scored the last goal of the second period, breaking up a streak of three Minnesota goals.
While it may be the last game Robinson and the other seniors skate in Hockey Valley, it was only fitting for Robinson to score the game-tying goal headed to the third period.
Both the final score and his goal gave Robinson a special postgame moment on the ice with Gadowsky.
"When we were shaking hands, Jimmy came up behind me and said, 'If this is the last night here at Pegula, what a night,'" Gadowsky said. "It meant a lot to Jimmy."
As Gadowsky stressed though, the team has learned many lessons throughout the course of the season, and they're not done yet.
Junior forward Andrew Sturtz told the media after last night's win that his team is "finally starting to learn how to play with a two-goal lead." During Saturday's game though, when the Nittany Lions took the lead, they remained calm even as the Gophers responded.
"You have to give those guys a lot of credit for coming back and coming back," Gadowsky said. "Sturtzy (Andrew Sturtz) said we were learning how to play with a lead and well we got an opportunity tonight to learn how to come back and obviously they were tremendous."
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Following a strong start in the opening session, Penn State wrestling didn't exactly close out the day according to plan.
To the average eye, considering five Big Ten finalists, the possibility of 10 NCAA Tournament qualifiers and the team title still within reach, things went seemingly well.
That's not how the Nittany Lions roll though.
"I think the guys, we wrestled fine," Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson said. "We had a couple of matches we'd like another chance at, but we have to come back strong tomorrow, we still have a chance. We have to wrestle well, but good effort overall."
The next match mentality paced the Nittany Lions throughout the day, as Penn State closed out session two at the Breslin Center just behind Ohio State for second in the team standings.
Team Standings - Top Four
1. Ohio State - 137.5
2. Penn State - 124.0
3. Michigan - 100.0
4. Iowa - 78.0
Among five Big Ten finalists tomorrow, Penn State's Shakur Rasheed will make his first appearance, having registered a 10-2 major decision against Purdue's No. 24 Christian Brunner in the semifinals.
It didn't come easy though, as he recorded a come-from-behind 8-4 decision against Indiana's Jake Kleimola in the first round, in a performance that hardly lived up to his expectations. His teammate Bo Nickal though, was right by his side to pick him up.
"He knows that I was having a hard time with the way I performed my first match," Rasheed said. "We're known for having fun, being happy and I faded away from it a little bit the first match."
His coaches were there too.
"After the first match the coaches came up to me and said hey, short memory you know? Next match," Rasheed said.
Rasheed used a 11-8 decision against Northwestern's Zack Chakonis, before finding even more of a sense of comfort by the time the semifinals arrived.
Headed to his first Big Ten Championship title match though, it of course means a lot to Rasheed, but there's still more work to do.
"This is only that much," Rasheed said raising his thumb and index finger parallel in the air. "I have to finish it off, beat whoever I have in the final, I didn't watch the other match, and then nationals."
Second-seeded Rasheed is set to meet Ohio State's third-seeded Kollin Moore in the finals.
Penn State's Vincenzo Joseph will also advance to his first Big Ten final match. Having come up short in last year's Big Ten semifinals against top-ranked Isaiah Martinez, the two will meet for the first time since Joseph's stunning NCAA Championship title victory last year.
"I'm looking forward to it," Joseph said. "I'm sure he is too. We're both really tough guys, we both wrestle hard and it's going to be fun no matter what happens."
Joseph's path to the finals also didn't come easy, as Sanderson noted the 165 pound weight class in the Big Ten is tough.
"I think he's wrestling great, his shots are good, he's crisp," Sanderson said. "He had a tough match there in the semis against a tough kid. Then a quarterfinalist, a tough match there too. A big match tomorrow."
Calmly navigating a few potentially troubling situations throughout the day, Joseph noted for the most part he was in control. He capped off the day with a 5-4 decision against Michigan's No. 7 Logan Massa, locked up by a late third period escape.
When asked about his day though, his response was simple - okay.
"I could have been more offensive," Joseph said. "That's really it. Offense is the name of the game and I need to do more of it."
Rasheed and Joseph will join top-seeds Nickal, Mark Hall and Zain Retherford in the Sunday afternoon finals.
What's Next in Session
III & IV (Big Ten Championships)
125: No. 14 Seed Carson Kuhn - Placer No. 2
133: No. 6 Seed Corey Keener - Seventh-place match
141: No. 2 Seed Nick Lee - Consolation Semifinals
149: No. 1 Seed Zain Retherford - Finals vs. Iowa's No. 2 Brandon Sorensen
165: No. 3 Seed Vincenzo Joseph - Finals vs. Illinois' No. 1 Isaiah Martinez
174: No. 1 Seed Mark Hall - Finals vs. Michigan's No. 6 Myles Amine
184: No. 1 Seed Bo Nickal - Finals vs. Ohio State's No. 2 Myles Martin
197: No. 2 Seed Shakur Rasheed - Finals vs. Ohio State's No. 3 Kollin Moore
285: No. 3 Seed Nick Nevills - Consolation Semifinals
Rice, Special to GoPSUsports.com
NEW YORK -- Patrick Chambers said what a lot of his fellow Big Ten coaches have likely been thinking for the past several weeks.
"I wouldn't want to play us," the Nittany Lion head coach said following their 78-70 loss to Purdue in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament in Madison Square Garden.
An afternoon of cold shooting and a tough stretch early in the second half put Penn State in too deep of a hole to climb out of, but for much of the game, the Nittany Lions went toe-to-physical-toe with one of the league's top teams and showed, as they have for much of 2018, they're capable of playing at an NCAA Tournament level.
Weathering some uncharacteristic misses on good looks from Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens early in the first half, the Nittany Lions used a 15-3 run to take a 28-21 lead with three and a half minutes before halftime. Fifteen of those points came from senior guard Shep Garner, who finished with a career-high 33 points and seemed to have the legs his teammates couldn't find after three games in three days.
Penn State shot just 34 percent from the field but stayed in the game by controlling the boards against the taller Boilermakers, grabbing 36 rebounds to Purdue's 32, including 16 offensive rebounds that led to 15 second-chance points.
The Nittany Lions also turned the ball over just eight times and got it done at the free-throw line, pouring in 22 of 27 attempts there, but Purdue's red-hot shooting in the second half never allowed them to mount a significant run. The Boilermakers connected on 15 of their 25 field-goal attempts in the second half, including seven of their 10 3-point tries. Carsen Edwards led a senior-laden Purdue team. Edwards totaled 27 points, hitting 6-of-9 threes. The Boilermakers advance to the tournament title game Sunday for the second time in three years.
"Give Purdue credit. That's a great team," Chambers said. "They have so many weapons. And obviously Carsen Edwards took over in the second half there."
Garner took over the final three minutes, scoring his team's final 10 points, including a pair of deep 3-pointers, as Penn State slashed a 15-point deficit to eight. The senior from Chester, who was playing in his ninth Big Ten Tournament game, the most ever by a Nittany Lion, finished with the second-highest point total by any player in a Big Ten Tournament game and the highest in the 2018 tournament.
"I gave it everything I had out there," Garner said. "I left it all out there on the court. And I was filled with emotion because I didn't want to lose. Our whole team felt the same way. It was just a tough night for us."
The Nittany Lions will now have to wait a week to see if they earn a berth in their first NCAA Tournament since 2011. Their body of work includes 21 wins overall and 11 against Big Ten opponents. As they proved again Saturday, there isn't a team in the league they can't play with.
"Nobody's going to want to see us in the NCAA Tournament," Chambers said. "We have NCAA Tournament talent. And I think the administration's going to see that."
Zuccarelli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Nittany Lions suffered a nonconference loss to Loyola-Maryland in sudden victory overtime Saturday afternoon.
No. 13 Penn State was up 13-6 in the second half, when the no. 23 Greyhounds had six unanswered goals bringing the game to a 13-12 difference. Despite the run, the Nittany Lions held onto a lead late, but Loyola scored with 28 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 15 apiece and bring the game into overtime, where the Lions fell, 16-15.
Sophomore goalie Madison Cunningham recorded 10 saves for the team during her 50:43 time in net. Cunningham was then relieved by freshman goalie Lucy Lowe. Lowe was able to make two saves during the final 11:27 of game play. Lowe will now move to 1-1 for the season.
"Lucy has done a great job," explained Doherty. "It is such a hard balance in practice and in games figuring out who is really going to come and perform, but Lucy has certainly come in and done a great job for us."
The Nittany Lions defense created some great turnovers during the game, giving opportunity to the powerful Penn State offense. Madison Cater, who had a game-high of five goals and a hat trick explained the importance of the turnovers created by the young defense.
"It was great and we just need to do that more often," said Carter. "When the defense is making a stop and the we could put the ball away, great things were happening. We just didn't have that happening as much as we could have."
Three Penn State players are now in the double digits for goals scored this season. With five games complete, Carter leads the team with 18 goals, followed behind senior Katie O'Donnell with 16 goals and sophomore Maria Auth with 13. Auth ended the game with four goals and O'Donnell finished with two.
"I think it is good," said Doherty about the offensive numbers. "We always try to be really well balanced in the offense. We want to make sure everyone feels like they can score, but I think overall today, for a couple scorers we really needed to finish our shots."
The Nittany Lions still have 12 games left on the schedule, six of which are in conference play. The team now moves to 3-2 overall and 2-1 at home.
Carter and the rest of the team will look to make these important changes before heading to James Madison University on Wednesday, March 7th for another nonconference matchup.
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson said early this week that a key to a successful postseason comes in being ready to go from the start, avoiding any type of early let down.
The Nittany Lions did just that Saturday morning, storming into the Big Ten Championships to advance eight to the session two semifinals, which kick off at 6 p.m. in the Breslin Center.
Session I Team
Standings - Top 5
1. Ohio State - 85.5
2. Penn State - 81.5
3. Michigan - 64.5
4. Iowa - 39.0
5. Illinois - 29.0
Penn State did what Penn State does best, remaining focused on the bonus points, going 15-2 with seven majors and five pins.
"Looking for falls, it's going to be important in this tournament," Mark Hall said. "There's a lot of strong teams here so just making sure I do my part and compete my hardest."
Hall and Bo Nickal were among the many Nittany Lion highlights from the first session. Both recorded some of the fastest pins of the morning to advance to the Big Ten Championships semifinals.
Hall went 2-0 with a pair of pins, while Nickal registered the morning's fourth fastest fall. Following a first round bye, Nickal made quick work of Minnesota's Brandon Krone, earning the pin at the 1:25 mark.
Hall opened the day with Michigan State's Logan Ritchie, taking a 6-1 lead into the third period with four minutes of riding time. In a relatively low scoring first two for Hall, by the time the third period rolled around, Hall was feeling it.
"He took a shot and I stuffed him and as soon as I got that move I pinned him in, I knew it," Hall said. "But had I not, it was the same idea, just looking for points and putting him on his back."
Back in action against Wisconsin's Ryan Christensen, Hall went for it early, converting a first period take down into a pin just 47 seconds into his quarterfinal match.
"It's just a position I'm familiar with," Hall said. "Usually, guys know it's coming so if I do it I have to be quick with it and I just hit it as hard as I could and it felt good. Putting myself there was important too. Instead of just going around and getting two, taking the chance and that's something that not a lot of people would do."
To the sound of a roar from the Penn State fan section in the stands, Penn State's Jason Nolf returned to the mat after an injury in late January.
"It was a little boring because I'm usually getting pretty excited to wrestle," Nolf said when asked about what it felt like to miss out on the final month of the regular season. "The matches that we had were awesome, I didn't mean my team was boring but just the fact that I wasn't out there was a little less exciting for me because I also want to be out there."
Nolf wasted no time getting back to his usual self, pinning Michigan State's Jake Tucker at the 2:33 mark. He capped off the quarterfinal round with a 15-2 major decision against Minnesota's Jake Short.
Ask any of the Nittany Lion wrestlers though, and there's still room for improvement headed into tonight's Big Ten semifinals, with Penn State currently trailing Ohio State 85.5-81.5 in the team standings.
"There's tons of room to improve and we're still going out there and wrestling hard so it's just exciting to see us getting a lot of points and scoring a bunch and getting to our attacks but at the same time, seeing that we have a lot to improve on his really exciting," Nickal said.
Up Next in Session II -
125: No. 14 Seed Carson Kuhn - vs. Northwestern's No. 9 Sebastian Rivera in Consolation 2
133: No. 6 Seed Corey Keener - vs. Wisconsin's Jens Lantz in Consolation 2
141: No. 2 Seed Nick Lee - vs. Illinois' No. 14 Michael Carr
149: No. 1 Seed Zain Retherford - vs. Ohio State's No. 6 Ke-Shawn Hayes
157: No. 2 Seed Jason Nolf - vs. Michigan's No. 6 Alec Pantaleo
165: No. 3 Seed Vincenzo Joseph - vs. Michigan's No. 7 Logan Massa
174: No. 1 Seed Mark Hall - vs. Northwestern's No. 17 Johnny Sebastian
184: No. 1 Seed Bo Nickal - vs. Illinois' No. 7 Emery Parker
197: No. 2 Seed Shakur Rasheed - vs. Purdue's No. 24 Christian Brunner
285: No. 3 Seed Nick Nevills - vs. Ohio State's No. 2 Kyle Snyder
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