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Penn State Men’s Hockey Falls To No. 4 Michigan 4-3

Penn State men’s hockey (12-12, 3-11 Big Ten) couldn’t salvage a road series with No. 4 Michigan (18-6-1, 9-5 Big Ten) on Saturday. Instead, the Nittany Lions fell 4-3 to lose a second straight matchup to the Wolverines despite putting up 47 shots on goal.

How It Happened

After making 38 saves in last night’s loss, senior Oskar Autio started at goaltender for the Nittany Lions.

The opening period of the game was uneventful. There were no power play opportunities or goals, but solid defensive efforts from both teams prevailed. Through the period, Penn State put out one of its most pleasing defensive endeavors this season by allowing just seven Michigan shots on goal while putting up 11 shots of its own.

Michigan made some noise putting up several shots in the last two minutes before the first period’s buzzer sounded.

Penn State’s start to the second period was not as appealing as the first. Forward Nolan Moyle gave Michigan a 1-0 lead on a shorthanded opportunity at the 4:13 mark. However, it didn’t take long for Penn State to answer back, as forward Ben Copeland tied things up 1-1 at the 6:34 mark of the second period. The Wolverines challenged the goal, but officials ruled that the play stood.

The Nittany Lions later took a 2-1 lead following forward Christian Sarlo’s goal at the 10:15 mark of the second period. The Penn State goal was assisted by defenseman Simon Mack and forward Danny Dzhaniyev. Momennts later, captain and defenseman Paul DeNaples gave his team a 3-1 lead with an unassisted goal.

Defenseman Kenny Johnson was called for cross-checking, which gave Michigan a two-minute power-play opportunity at 16:42. Michigan’s forward Matty Beniers remembered the saying that a two-goal lead is the most dangerous in hockey when he scored on the power play at the 18:45 mark of the second period.

By the time the second period ended, all five of the game’s goals came in the frame. Still, Penn State headed into the break with a 3-2 lead.

Michigan came out hot as Hughes tied this game at the 0:59 mark of the third period. About eight minutes later, Brisson scored to give the Wolverines their first lead of the night. Penn State’s Autio had no chance on this rocket of a shot. Head coach Guy Gadowsky challenged the goal and claimed there were too many men on the ice, but the effort was unsuccessful.

The Nittany Lions made one final push when they sent Autio to the bench with under two and a half minutes remaining in the game. Even after spending the majority of the last couple of minutes putting up shots in the Michigan zone, Penn State couldn’t score.

Takeaways

  • An excellent defensive effort by Penn State early on decreased Michigan’s scoring opportunities. This made a big difference for the Nittany Lions, especially early on in this game, as it kept momentum on their side. The first period’s defense seemingly disappeared late in this game as Penn State trailed and had to play a game of catch-up towards the end of this matchup.
  • Penn State has lost its momentum in the past, resulting in sloppy mistakes and sometimes emotions getting in the way of things. Despite the loss, tonight’s game showcased improvement on that mentality as the Nittany Lions kept themselves in competition against one of the nation’s top teams.
  • The biggest highlight for the Nittany Lions tonight was their 47 shots on goal. Additionally, Michigan goaltender Erik Portillo had 44 saves, a career high. Penn State’s shots on goal were the most that Michigan had let up in a single game all season long. Although those scoring chances didn’t ultimately work out, they’re a sign of good things to come for a struggling Penn State team.

What’s Next?

Penn State will return to Pegula Ice Arena to begin a two-game series against Wisconsin. Puck drop on Friday, January 21, is set for 7 p.m.

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About the Author

Gabriel Herman

Gabriel Herman is a junior journalism major at Penn State from Minneapolis, MN. He writes about several sports-related topics. If you want to discuss great moments in Minnesota Twins history, you can reach him at [email protected]

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