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Penn State Men’s Hockey Drops Series Opener To No. 4 Michigan 3-2

Penn State men’s hockey struggled with discipline against No. 4 Michigan, as the team dropped the first game of the series 3-2.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions entered tonight’s game against No. 4 Michigan attempting to rewrite their season and steal a game on the road against one of the premier teams in the nation. Guy Gadowsky went with usual starter Oskar Autio in goal while the Wolverines went with Erik Portillo.

Following puck drop, the first five minutes quickly unraveled with little stoppages, but it was the Wolverines that jumped out to the early 1-0 lead due to a breakdown in the Nittany Lions defense. Freshman phenom Luke Hughes got behind the Penn State defense and fired home the games first goal and his eighth of the season.

Trying to even things up, Danny Dzhaniyev had the Nittany Lions first scoring chance of the game but was set aside by Wolverines goaltender Erik Portillo. Kent Johnson was whistled on the play giving Penn State its first power play of the game. Despite not scoring on the man advantage, Michigan forward Nolan Moyle was given a five minute major for boarding as well as a game misconduct. With a big opportunity to even things up, the Nittany Lions, similar to their first man advantage, couldn’t get set up in the offensive zone, foiling their second power play of the first period.

After getting two opportunities on the power play with no result, the Nittany Lions were forced to go on the penalty kill after forward Ben Schoen was given a five minute major penalty as well as a game misconduct. It didn’t take long for the Wolverines to get to work in the offensive zone as just seconds into the power play, forward Matty Beniers fired a bouncing puck past Autio to give Michigan a 2-0 first period lead. 48 seconds after Michigans first power play goal, the Wolverines found the back of the net for the third time in the period and second time on the power play as forward Kent Johnson jammed in a loose puck past Autio for his sixth of the season, giving Michigan a commanding 3-0 lead.

The first period came to an end with Michigan dominating the Nittany Lions in every aspect of the game, leading 3-0.

Penn State’s best scoring chance of the game came just under nine minutes into the second period when Connor McMenamin got behind the Michigan defense for a breakaway opportunity. Despite the grade A chance, Michigan star goaltender Erik Portillo made a great pad save to keep the Nittany Lions off the board.

Despite improved play and a significant amount of chances, Penn State struggled once again to finish around the net.

The second period rolled on with no goals and no penalties as the game entered the second intermission with Michigan still leading 3-0. Shots in favor of the Wolverines 23-16.

Needing a hot start out of intermission to get back in the game, forward Tyler Paquette fired his eighth of the season over the left shoulder of Portillo to cut Michigans lead to two. The goal was assisted by Chase McLane.

Less than four minutes following Penn State’s first goal, the Nittany Lions didn’t let up in the offensive zone, leading to Penn State’s second goal of the period, trimming Michigan’s lead to just one. Leading scorer Kevin Wall fired home his 14th of the season over the left shoulder of Portillo.

With all the momentum heading into the final 10 minutes, the Nittany Lions were gifted a big opportunity to tie the game when the Wolverines were sent to the box for two minutes. Despite the man advantage, Penn State was unable to find the back of the net, leaving the game at a one goal Michigan advantage heading into the final seven minutes.

Needing every second, forward Ben Copeland and Christian Berger committed two very untimely penalties less than a minute apart to put the Wolverines on a two man advantage with less than five minutes remaining.

With just over 90 seconds remaining in the game, head coach Guy Gadowsky elected to pull the goaltender in hopes of tying the game to send it to overtime.

Despite a strong effort to come back, the game ended as the Nittany Lions were unable to overcome discipline problems in the first period. Michigan wins 3-2, outshooting Penn State by 11.

Takeaways

  • While it may not show on the final scoreboard, goaltender Oskar Autio was very solid in net for Penn State. Multiple times throughout the game Autio made several key saves to bail out the lapses in the Penn State defense. In total Autio stopped 38 of the 41 shots he faced.
  • Entering tonights game, discipline was a huge factor for Penn State’s struggles, particularly in late game situations. The turning point of tonight’s game was a five minute major penalty and game misconduct given to forward Ben Schoen late in the first period giving the Wolverines an extended look on the power play that would lead to two goals, putting the Nittany Lions in a early deficit that they were ultimately unable to overcome.
  • The Nittany Lions defense did Autio absolutely no favors tonight as the Finnish goaltender stood on his head all game to give Penn State a fighting chance. Too many breakaways and odd man rushes forced the Nittany Lions hand in the defensive zone, causing them to play from behind most of the night.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions return to the ice tomorrow evening in a rematch against the Wolverines at 7 p.m. The game will be available on BTN+.

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About the Author

Devon Craley

Devon is a junior studying sports journalism. He has the genuine misfortune of being a Philadelphia sports fan...IYKYK. Send your hot takes and preferably your freezing cold takes on Twitter to @devon3134. Devon is also your friendly, neighborhood State College movie nerd.

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