GOTW: Behind two-goal night from Biro, Penn State bests Ohio State 6-3, re-takes top spot in B1G Hockey standings

 (Tim Brule)
After falling in a shootout on Friday, Penn State earned a much-needed victory, 6-3 over Ohio State to earn four points on the weekend and pull into first place in the Big Ten, a point ahead of three teams (Photo: Ric Kruszynski)

It was a battle to the end, but No. 9 Penn State survived a third-period rally by No. 13 Ohio State, scoring twice into an empty net to earn a 6-3 road victory and move back into solo first place in the Big Ten standings.

For much of the game, it felt like Penn State was in control as the Nittany Lions jumped to a 3-0 lead on goals by Denis Smirnov, Alex Limoges and Brandon Biro. Even after Ohio State got on the board with 5:57 left in the second on Carson Meyer’s 11th goal of the season, the Nittany Lions had an answer when Evan Barratt buried his 11th with 16 seconds left in the frame.

The Buckeyes weren’t going away, though. Ronnie Hein scored 1:14 into the third and, with the goalie pulled, Ryan O’Connell scored his first of the season with 2:18 left to close the lead to 4-3.

But Biro and Cole Hults each tallied empty net goals to earn the win.

Combined with No. 19 Michigan State’s 4-2 victory over Minnesota, Penn State moves back into first place with 33 points. Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State all are two points behind and now have slight distance over Notre Dame, which was idle this weekend and sits in fifth with 28 points. Michigan, after a weekend sweep of Wisconsin, is back in the home ice conversation, one point in back of Notre Dame with 27 points.

Saturday’s results | PairWise Rankings | Standings

No. 8 Massachusetts 5,ย No. 10 Providence 1
John Leonard recorded a hat trick to reach the 20-goal mark on the season as No. 5 Massachusetts completed the weekend sweep of Providence with a 5-1 road victory, remaining two points ahead of UMass Lowell, a 4-3 winner on Merrimack on Saturday, for first place in Hockey East.

Leonard scored in each period and was supplemented by goals from Oliver Chau in the second and Jack Suter late in the game to put things away. Tyce Thompson recorded his team-best 18th goal for Providence.

Matt Murray made 21 saves to earn his 10th win of the season for UMass.

No. 5 Clarkson 2, St. Lawrence 0
Frank Marotte stopped all 21 shots he saw as fifth-ranked Clarkson earned a 2-0 victory over cross-town rival St. Lawrence in the first game the teams have played in the renovated Appleton Arena.

Devan Brosseau and Nick Campoli provided all the offense that the Golden Knights needed on the evening.

The victory keeps Clarkson atop the ECAC, two points ahead of No. 2 Colgate, a 4-1 winner over Colgate on Saturday. The Big Red, however, play a makeup game against Colgate on Sunday after their Friday contest was postponed because of inclement weather.

No. 6 Minnesota Duluth 4, Omaha 1
Minnesota Duluth’s Tanner Laderoute’s goal with 17 seconds left in the second period broke a 1-1 tie as the sixth-ranked Bulldogs are making things interesting in the NCHC, completing the weekend sweep of Omaha, 4-1.

With first-place North Dakota idle, Minnesota Duluth pulls within two points in the standings of the Fighting Hawks, but do surrender two games in hands to the conference leader.

After a scoreless first, Justin Richards for UMD and Chayse Primeau for Omaha traded goals early in the second.

After Laderoute’s late goal gave the Bulldogs the lead into the final period, Jade Miller’s first goal on the season was an insurance marker and Cole Koepke’s empty netter with 1:08 sealed the victory.

No. 3 Minnesota State 1, Northern Michigan 0
Dryden McKay made 22 saves to earn a shutout and his nation’s best 25th win of the season as Minnesota State skated closer to the WCHA regular season title with a 1-0 victory at Northern Michigan.

The win completed the weekend sweep of the Wildcats and stretched the Mavericks lead to 11 points over second-place Bemidji State. The Beavers still has six regular season game remaining compared to Minnesota State’s four.

The only goal of the game came from the stick of Jared Spooner, his ninth of the season, at 13:35 of the first.

Minnesota State hardly had an easy ride, needing to kill four Northern Michigan power plays, including one with 6:58 remaining in the final period.