EAST LANSING - Goaltender Jake Hildebrand made a career-high 48 saves and the senior line of Greg Wolfe, Dean Chelios and Lee Reimer combined for all three goals as the Michigan State hockey team defeated Penn State, 3-0, on Friday night in front of a crowd of 6,397 at Munn Ice Arena. The win was the Spartansâ€™ first in the Big Ten as they are now 7-10-3 overall and 1-2-2-2 in the conference.
â€œThere were parts of our game tonight that I liked and certainly Hildy (Jake Hildebrand) was one of them,â€ said MSU head coach Tom Anastos. â€œI thought he was really tracking the puck well and this is a team that we knew would shoot from everywhere and so he had to be very alert.â€
Chelios, Wolfe and Reimer all finished with a goal and two assists, combing for all nine of the teamâ€™s points.
â€œIt was great to see that line score some goals,â€ said Anastos. â€œThey have been playing hard, generating some scoring chances and the puck hasnâ€™t gone in. I was hoping the puck would go in before they started pressing.â€
Chelios got the first of two Spartan goals in the opening stanza, putting home a rebound at the 14:38 mark. The play started when Reimer fired a slap shot near the top of the left circle that bounced off PSU goaltender Matthew Skoff. Chelios collected the rebound in front of the right side of the net and while falling toward Skoff, he was able to slide the puck into the net on his backhand.
Wolfe made it 2-0 Spartans less than three minutes later. After Chelios gained the zone along the right side, he threw the puck toward the slot where it bounced off Reimerâ€™s stick. The puck deflected to Wolfe, who deked Skoff and scored on a backhand.
The Spartans finished with a 15-11 edge in shots on goal in the first period, but the Nittany Lions reversed the trend in the second and third periods. Firing the puck from all angles, Penn State put 19 shots on goal in the second period and then 18 in the third. But each time, Hildebrand was equal to the task.
â€œThey came out really strong in the second period and we kind of weathered the storm,â€ said Hildebrand. â€œPenn State is a really hard-working team and we knew that coming in to tonightâ€™s game.â€
Hildebrand and the Spartans killed a pair of penalties in the second period and then another in the third.
With Hildebrand continuing to frustrate the Nittany Lions (4-13-1, 0-5-0-0) at one end, the Spartans maintained their 2-0 lead until 4:52 to play in the game when Reimer scored his third goal of the season. Reimer took the puck from Wolfe on the Spartan side of the red line and cruised into the PSU zone on the right flank. He cut toward the middle and fired a shot that beat Skoff to give MSU a 3-0 advantage.
â€œThat was a big goal,â€ said Anastos. â€œWe knew that whoever got the next goal was going to get the momentum.â€
Hildebrandâ€™s shutout was the fourth of his career and second in the last four games. His 19 second-period saves tied his career high for the most in a period.