No. 15 Men’s Hockey Falls 6-3 to No. 6 Michigan In A Battle Of Inches
Something about the Penn State-Michigan hockey rivalry makes every moment weigh a little heavier. Unrelenting offense, fundamental mastery, and timing gave No. 6 Michigan a 6-3 win in the so-called Big Ten “Super Saturday.” It was anyone’s game until Michigan’s offense created more chances and the puck rarely left Penn State’s defensive zone.
How It Happened
The second Penn State-Michigan matchup of the season started off even. Even chances, even possession, and matching powerplays initiated some 4-on-4 hockey. Mid-period, Michigan edged Penn State with better chances, but Eamon McAdam continuously denied its stacked top line. Defense gallantly protected McAdam until Alex Kile maneuvered through a few screens to put the Wolverines on the board at 14:55.
Refusing to let discouragement turn to chaos like it did in last Thursday’s 7-4 loss, Penn State kept firing off shots. Last season, Eric Scheid asserted “we love beating them, they hate losing to us, and it shows,” regarding Michigan. With 11 points in ten appearances,David Goodwin might love beating Michigan more than anyone. He wasn’t about to let the first period end sourly, so he tied it up 1-1 on a redirect 40.1 seconds before the buzzer.
Michigan came out for the second more prepared. It took a hit to make a play, with a slashing penalty preceding a shorthanded goal just 15 seconds into the period. The scrappier-but-motivated Nittany Lions answered with a vengeance. Not even five minutes into the second, Vince Pedrie found Andrew Sturtz for his 13th goal of the season. David Glen lit the lamp seconds after at 16:47, but a referee blew a premature whistle right before threatening to thwart Penn State’s momentum on a no-goal. Unfazed, Ricky DeRosa ripped one off a post into the goal 4:57 into the period for a 3-2 lead. The Wolverines trailed the Nittany Lions, and for the first time all day, this Saturday actually felt “super.”
A high stick and some characteristic Zach Saar aggression put Penn State on the Penalty kill in the middle of the second, but it didn’t post a problem. DeRosa wasn’t done, and a 3-on-1 he nearly widened Penn State’s lead, but the shot hit the pipe. The physical rivalry produced a pair of late-period penalties, but fundamental stick work and a sprawling McAdam kept the Nittany Lions skating out of the second period with a 3-2 lead.
The next 20 minutes were crucial. Penn State entered the final period a man down, desperate to kill off Luke Juha’s highsticking penalty from the second. With 17:41 left in regulation, a quick set up blind-sighted McAdam. The left side of his net was wide open for a Boo Nieves’ equalizer. Penn State needed to step up its neutral zone play to regain the lead. Defense delivered the puck to safety three plays in-a-row upon the realization. McAdam’s glove did the same. He faced a breakaway and a flurry of goals as Michigan crept up on the shot lead.
As a human being, he simply couldn’t stand on his head anymore. A point blank shot from Justin Selman gave Michigan a 4-3 lead with 9:10 left in the game. Penn State fought side-by-side with the nationally touted team until this point, where it relied on McAdam’s prowess and not much else. The puck rarely left Penn State’s defensive zone for a long stretch. Exhausted, he let another one slip by with 5:15 to go. Michigan had a late two-goal lead and all the momentum.
Nittany Lion offense woke up in the final five minutes, but what looked like effort was just masked aggravation. The only thing that came from Penn State’s late-game possession was a high hit from Sturtz resulting in blood on the ice and a major penalty. An empty-netter sealed the deal for the Wolverines. They leave Madison Square Garden with a 6-3 win and a series sweep over Penn State.
Player Of The Game
Justin Selman gave Michigan the momentum-shifting goal and a late 4-3 lead Penn State was just too tired to catch up on.
Penn State heads to Minneapolis for a crack at Big Ten-leader Minnesota on February 5.