No. 11 Penn State men’s hockey traveled to Ann Arbor this weekend to finish out a historic regular season with a series against Michigan. The beginning of the end was not ideal for the Nittany Lions or their tournament chances. Solid defense and persistence gave the underdog Wolverines a 3-2 win over Penn State.
How It Happened
Majority of the first period was sluggish, with a handful of solid chances from Michigan. It actually took more shots on Penn State’s first power play than Penn State did. An uncharacteristically quiet Nittany Lion offense broke through on a late-period power play. They attacked Wolverine goalie Hayden Lavigne with a flurry of shots he managed to save, but a Kris Myllari bomb from the blue line with .5 seconds left in the period slipped past him and made it 1-0 Penn State headed into the second.
Michigan’s Tony Calderone came out for the second on a mission — he hit the post then beat Peyton Jones glove side off the next face off for a 1-1 equalizer 3:06 into the period. After a generally good game from Lavigne, David Thompson beat him from the corner on a shot he really had no business letting in for the 2-1 Nittany Lion late-period lead.
Calderone’s second equalizer of the game kicked off the third period. The top-shelf goal made it 2-2 2:23 into the third. Penn State couldn’t answer, and an ugly turnover turned into an odd-man rush for Michigan gave it its first lead of the game 5:25 into the third. Michigan native Trevor Hamilton had a few good chances in a mid-period power play, but the Wolverines killed off the golden opportunity. The Wolverines staved off Penn State scoring opportunities for the rest of the period and hung on to their only lead of the game for the 3-2 final score.
- With this loss, Wisconsin cinches the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament no matter how it fares against Ohio State this weekend. That means Penn State definitely doesn’t get a first-round bye, and might have to win the tourney for its only shot at a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Penn State did have a 98% chance of getting into the tournament before this loss, so don’t get too worried. Get a little worried though.
- No matter what kind of season Michigan’s having, I don’t think playing at Yost will ever be easy.
- The turnovers. They have to stop.
Penn State and Michigan are back at Yost tomorrow night to finish out their regular seasons. The puck drops at 7:35 p.m.