Penn State is perhaps growing too familiar with overtime success.
For the third time in as many tries, the Nittany Lions needed more than 60 minutes to earn a victory, this time a 3-2 win over Michigan State.
Albeit only needing 30 more seconds to finish off a late comeback against the Spartans, senior captain Alex Limoges — who scored the game-winning goal — is confident in his overtime abilities.
“I love playing in overtime,” Limoges said. “I think it's a lot of fun. You always dream of scoring that game-winning goal.”
Guy Gadowsky has been quick to praise Limoges all season for his veteran leadership away from the rink, but his results on the ice Friday night were critical to the Nittany Lions’ success.
Not only did Limoges score the final goal of the game, he brilliantly assisted Connor MacEachern on the latter’s game-tying goal with 1:10 left in regulation.
Without Limoges, Penn State likely does not win this game.
“Those were two huge plays, obviously at huge times,” Gadowsky said. “When your captain is able to get that done in the biggest times, that sure gives the team a lot of confidence.”
Gadowsky said Limoges has been a confident and guiding presence for the program since “day one.”
But against Spartan goalie Drew DeRidder, who finished the night with 36 saves, it was going to take more than the right mindset to prevent the Nittany Lions from falling to 5-8 on the season.
Instead, Limoges said it took a collective effort rather than his excellent solo performance for Penn State to eke out a victory.
“It’s really ‘stick with the process’,” Limoges said. “Against a hot goalie, it’s ‘don’t change how we’re playing’, ‘keep getting shots’, ‘keep getting to the net’. We found the bounces tonight.”
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Though Limoges said overtime is all about waiting for the “right opportunity” and maintaining possession, the Nittany Lions jumped out of the gate in overtime by ending the contest just 30 seconds into the extra frame.
Since overtime forces both teams to keep two skaters off the rink, there is ample open ice for skaters to take advantage of.
With extra real estate to work with, Limoges took advantage and put the team on his back.
“I can’t state enough what he means to this program,” Gadowsky said. “He’s the real deal as a player, as a human being and a leader.”
And the senior has picked up on a few things by mirroring the pros.
Limoges said he has watched a fair amount of NHL games since the league returned to play on Wednesday.
He’s been able to watch many overtime periods and said he’s closely observed how they play.
For a group of guys that like to have fun on the ice according to Limoges, there is so much more that goes into creating overtime success than a lucky bounce.
“Practicing it and making sure everybody’s on the same page, I think that’s probably the most important thing to winning in overtime.”
Penn State jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal from Christian Sarlo, but from there allowed a pair of goals to fall behind 2-1 for much of the third period.
Though Sarlo would prefer to earn victories in regulation, he understood the importance of earning a win when it appeared such an outcome would elude the Nittany Lions.
“Especially a game like today, when we had to battle back, we’ll take it whatever way we can get it,” Sarlo said.
And while Limoges trusts his group to pull out overtime victories, he shared Sarlo’s sentiment about winning without exhausting extra energy.
“If I had to choose, I would definitely win in regulation every single time,” Limoges said.
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