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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 13 Penn State defeated No. 6 Ohio State, 5-2, in front of a packed Pegula Ice Arena to extend their unbeaten streak to 11 games.
In a game where the Buckeyes outshot the Nittany Lions by 11, it was sophomore goaltender Peyton Jones who was the difference maker.
Jones recorded a season high 45 saves and played a crucial role in Penn State snapping Ohio State's six game win streak.
"If we didn't have Peyton (Jones) it could've been a long night for us," Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "This was a really big win but it doesn't happen without Peyton."
Jones stopped 20 shots in the second period, setting a career high for saves in a single period.
"Peyton Jones was just tremendous," Gadowsky said. "He made ridiculous saves and he made a lot of them. I can't say enough about him."
With his stellar performance, Jones improves his record to 12-5-2 on the season.
"I just go out there and do everything I can to stop the puck," Jones said.
Jones wasn't the only Nittany Lion to play perhaps his best hockey of the season Friday night. Freshman forward Evan Barratt gave the Nittany Lions a spark offensively, scoring two goals to go along with an assist.
Barratt tallied both his sixth and seventh goals of the season to set a career high mark with three points.
Barratt credited his performance to his teammates, noting he's finding confidence within the program.
"As a freshman, you definitely get more comfortable as the year goes on," Barratt said. "Playing with these guys for a couple weeks now has helped me with my confidence a lot."
For Gadowsky, he has noticed Barratt's growing confidence throughout the season.
"As he gets more games under his belt, you can he see he is getting more comfortable," Gadowsky said. He certainly looks more comfortable not only with the puck, but also in the faceoff circle, and that's been a big jump for him."
Like Barratt, the Nittany Lions seem to be catching fire at the right time. Penn State is now tied for second place in the Big Ten with their win against Ohio State.
With another game in the series still remaining, Gadowsky and the team are well aware that there's no time to exhale.
"It took us a while, but we got back to our roots," Gadowsky said. "We can't take (success) for granted, and we need to continue to work really hard."
For Jones, the result of that hard work is finally coming together as a unit.
"With six freshmen coming in all while losing some guys from last year who were the leaders of this program, it was tough," Jones said. "But we've had other guys step up and fill the holes, and we got on a roll."
Penn State looks to complete the series sweep against Ohio State Saturday night at 7p.m. in Pegula Ice Arena.