No. 12 Penn State Hockey Falls To No. 20 Michigan 4-0
No. 12 Penn State men’s hockey (13-9-3, 6-6-3 Big Ten) dropped game one of its series against No. 20 Michigan at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor tonight.
The Nittany Lions fired 34 shots on Hayden Lavigne’s goal, but could not find the back of the net. Penn State has now failed to score in their past 107:07 of play. Peyton Jones made 31 saves in the defeat.
How It Happened
Penn State entered play tonight having lost its last five games at Yost Ice Arena, but took a penalty 3:39 into tonight’s contest. Alec Marsh took a tripping penalty to set up a Michigan power play that did not lead to a Wolverine goal thanks to a strong penalty kill effort from Guy Gadowsky’s squad.
Peyton Jones made his first strong save of the evening with 13:54 remaining in the first period; Michael Pastujov found time and space in the high slot, but Jones denied the freshman’s insuing wrist shot.
The ice seemed to be slightly tilted in the Nittany Lions’ favor through the first ten minutes of the game, but both teams generated plenty of scoring chances in that time.
A Nikita Pavlychev slash set up Michigan’s second power play of the evening at 10:22 of the second period, but the Nittany Lions’ penalty kill once again stifled the Wolverines’ power play. However, Jack Becker deflected a Josh Norris pass into an open cage to open the scoring for Michigan just seconds after Pavlychev’s penalty expired.
The Wolverines kept Penn State on the ropes after the goal, peppering Peyton Jones’ net with chances, but the Langhorne, PA native responded well and made some crucial saves to keep Michigan at bay.
Penn State had a golden opportunity to tie the game with 3:20 left in the opening frame when Brandon Biro and Denis Smirnov found themselves with a 2-on-1 rush after a Michigan turnover in the neutral zone. Biro cut to the net and took a wrist shot that beat Michigan goalie Hayden Lavigne, but the puck rattled off the right post and harmlessly bounced away.
The first period ended with the Nittany Lions trailing by a goal, but Andrew Sturtz left the ice early for undisclosed reasons. Fortunately, he returned to the ice for the start of the second period; it’s more likely that Sturtz had a problem with his equipment than an injury issue.
Penn State started the second period very well, generating three quick chances that were all turned aside by Hayden Lavigne. James Robinson then found himself on a breakaway five minutes into the period after a beautiful pass by Nate Sucese, but Lavigne closed the door on the captain’s low shot.
Michigan stifled the Nittany Lions’ offense and slowed down the tempo of tonight’s game throughout the second period, a style of play that does not suit Guy Gadowsky’s squad. However, Penn State managed to find plenty of chances, including several uncontested shots from the slot. The line of Denis Smirnov, Brandon Biro, and Nate Sucese was the Nittany Lions’ best forward group, generating several grade-A chances in front of the goal.
Hayden Lavigne stopped all of those scoring chances in the first 40 minutes of tonight’s game, helping his squad enter the final 20 minutes of the game with a 1-0 lead.
The third period got off to a choppy start with several whistles interrupting the action. Penn State didn’t find too many scoring chances in the first few minutes of the period, but found more offense as the period progressed.
However, Jack Becker deflected the puck past Peyton Jones with 9:22 remaining in the period to double Michigan’s lead. Evan Barratt quickly took a penalty on the following shift after the goal, but the best chance of the two-minute minor came off the stick of Cole Hults. He nearly scored on a 2-on-1 rush, but Hayden Lavigne denied him with his right pad.
Josh Norris extended Michigan’s lead to three with 5:31 remaining in the final period and Brendan Warren added a shorthanded empty-netter to put the finishing touches on a 4-0 victory.
Player Of The Game
Nate Sucese | Sophomore | Center
Nate Sucese’s line with Brandon Biro and Denis Smirnov generated the most offense of any on the ice for Penn State tonight, using their speed to come up with several grade-A scoring chances.
The Nittany Lions and Wolverines will finish this weekend’s series tomorrow night. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. back at Yost Ice Arena.
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