PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Know Your Enemy: No. 12 Penn State Hockey vs. No. 20 Michigan

No. 12 Penn State men’s hockey will wrap up its regular seasons series with No. 20 Michigan this weekend at Ann Arbor’s Yost Ice Arena.

The Nittany Lions had a season-long 11 game unbeaten streak until it was snapped at the hands of No. 6 Ohio State.  They still have plenty of positives to take away from their series against the Buckeyes, though. The Wolverines swept No. 13 Minnesota last weekend, becoming the first Big Ten team to sweep the Golden Gophers at Mariucci since the conference formed in 2013. Can Mel Pearson’s squad keep the good times rolling or will Guy Gadowsky’s Nittany Lions ruin this weekend for the Wolverines?

The General

Michigan (10-10-2, 5-7-2 Big Ten) currently sits on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament discussion. The Wolverines are currently in, but only just, as they occupy the final playoff spot in the Pairwise rankings. Although the team’s current record and Pairwise status may indicate an average team, don’t overlook this squad; it is extremely solid and capable of winning plenty of hockey games.

Offensively, Michigan’s top line of Dexter Dancs, Cooper Marody, and Tony Calderone has been together for most of the 2017-18 season. The trio lit up Pegula Ice Arena and tallied 15 points during the two teams’ last meetings in late October while scoring six of the team’s nine goals that weekend. Shutting down this dynamic line is key for Guy Gadowsky’s squad, but is much easier said than done. Marody and Calderone are Michigan’s semifinalists for the Hobey Baker Award and have combined for 58 points in 22 games.

Although the top line burned the Nittany Lions during these teams’ last meeting, the defense cannot focus all of its attention on that single unit. The Wolverines’ group of forwards is stacked with NHL prospects and high-level talents, including freshman Josh Norris. Norris was selected No. 19 overall by the San Jose Sharks in the 2017 NHL Draft and represented the United States at the 2018 World Junior Championships in Buffalo. He tallied three assists during the tournament as he helped his team win a bronze medal.

The player to watch on Michigan’s back end is freshman Quinn Hughes. Hughes is eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft and projected to be selected with one of the top ten picks in the draft. The freshman has scored once and added 11 assists in 19 collegiate games while skating on the Wolverines’ top defensive pair alongside alternate captain Joseph Cecconi. Hughes played with Penn State center Evan Barratt on the United States’ National Development Team last season, scoring 53 points in 65 games.

Hughes was the only freshman defenseman in the lineup last weekend at Minnesota; the rest of the top-six defensemen are a solid, veteran group with plenty of collegiate experience. Alternate captain Sam Piazza is one of the most solid defensemen in the Big Ten, racking up a team-leading 38 shot blocks in 20 games played.

In goal, Hayden Lavigne has seen the majority of action through 22 games, but Coach Pearson is also not afraid to use Jack LaFontaine if he needs to. Lavigne boasts a 6-6-2 record, a .902 save percentage, and a 2.79 goals-against average in 13 starts throughout the season. LaFontaine is not far behind in each of those categories, posting a 4-4-0 record, .881 save percentage, and a 3.76 goals-against average in his nine starts. It’s entirely possible that we see both goalies this weekend if one struggles on Friday night.

Zeroing In

Michigan clearly boasts plenty of talent up front and on the back end, but the team has struggled to keep the puck out of its net throughout the year. The Wolverines have allowed 3.2 goals per game this year — a statistic that certainly works in the Nittany Lions’ high-flying offense’s favor.

A major key will be stopping the top line of Dexter Dancs, Cooper Marody, and Tony Calderone throughout the weekend, but the re-introduction of Kevin Kerr into the lineup will help Penn State keep Michigan’s potent offense at bay. Kerr broke his wrist during a 4-0 victory over Ohio State and will likely play this weekend after missing six games due to the injury.

We all know that generating tons of shots on goal is at the foundation of Penn State hockey; this philosophy should translate into plenty of goals this weekend due to the Wolverines’ below-average defensive and goaltending units. However, Penn State has had its own defensive problems throughout the year, so expect to see two track meets this weekend.

Last Meeting

The last meeting between these two teams came at Pegula Ice Arena in late October. The two teams split the weekend series; Penn State won game one after an overtime goal by Blake Gober, but Michigan bounced back with a 5-2 victory one night later.


There will be plenty of goals, and I think that Peyton Jones holds a slight edge over Hayden Lavigne and Jack LaFontaine in goal. Because of that, Penn State will score most of those goals and pick up a series victory in the process.

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

Mikey is a junior majoring in journalism and Onward State's Sports Editor. He grew up in Bedminster, NJ and is way too obnoxious about all the best things his home state has to offer. He likes to play golf, but he isn't very good at it because golf is hard. If you're dying to see more hockey/golf content on your timeline, you can follow Mikey on Twitter @mikey_mandarino. Send all hate mail/death threats to [email protected]


Other posts by Mikey

Penn State Hockey’s Aarne Talvitie, Evan Barratt Look Back On World Junior Experience

Talvitie returned to Happy Valley on Saturday, so both of Penn State’s representatives at the U-20 World Junior Championship are back with the team following the tournament.

State High Quarterback Tommy Friberg Receives Preferred Walk-On Offer From Penn State

Penn State Football’s Danny Dalton, Alex Gellerstedt Enter NCAA Transfer Portal

Join Onward State: Spring 2019 Application

Want to be a part of the nation’s premier student-run media outlet? Want to have your words read or your pictures seen by hundreds of thousands of readers and social media followers? More importantly –do ya like having fun? Believe it or not, it’s that time again. Onward State is hiring for the spring semester and we’d […]

Your Guide To Finding Last-Minute Graduation Housing

If you and your family are entering your last spring semester with a lot less coordination, there are some still some limited but available options for graduation day accommodations.

Send this to a friend