In the first of what will be many, many meetings in the years to come, Michigan State edged Penn State, 5-3, in NCAA Division I action on Friday night at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, Mich.
It was the first time the Spartans and Nittany Lions had ever faced off at the varsity hockey level, as Penn State is in its first campaign as a Division I independent after several successful decades as a high-level club team.
Both schools will join the new Big Ten Conference in the fall, along with Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Tanner Sorenson led the way for Michigan State (7-16-3 overall) with two goals against the Nittany Lions, including the game-winner on a power play with 5:43 remaining in regulation. Greg Wolfe then added an empty-net tally with 16 seconds left to ice it.
The host Spartans took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Michael Ferrantino just 12:42 into the game, which held up until the teams traded goals in the middle session for a 3-3 tie after 40 minutes of play.
"Penn State is what we thought they'd be—they are well coached, and play hard," said Spartan head coach Tom Anastos at via the team's website. "We knew that they would come in and compete. I was happy to see Will Yanakeff get the win, and make no mistake—he had to earn it. "
After Sorenson made it 2-0 with his first score of the night, Penn State (9-13-0 overall) got goals just over six minutes apart from Tommy Olczyk (shorthanded) and Taylor Holstrom to make it a 2-2 game less than nine minutes into the second period.
Kevin Walrod put MSU back up by one at 15:58, but David Glen connected just 14 seconds later with his team-leading 12th goal to again knot matters.
It stayed that way until Sorenson’s goal late in the third stanza put the Spartans ahead for good.
Yanakeff made 27 saves in goal for MSU, while Matthew Skoff did likewise for Penn State. The Spartans outshot the Nittany Lions, 32-30, and were 1-for-5 on the power play, while Penn State went 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
The two schools will meet again Saturday night at 6:05 p.m. at Munn to conclude this year’s non-conference series. The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.
Next year, their meetings will count in the Big Ten standings.