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No. 2 Penn State Men’s Hockey Cruises Past No. 3 Michigan Tech 8-0 In NCAA Regionals

No. 2 seed Penn State men’s hockey (22-15-1 overall, 10-13-1 Big Ten) defeated No. 4-seeded Michigan Tech (24-11-4 overall, 15-7-4 CCHC) 8-0 in the NCAA Regional Semifinal on Friday evening at PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Penn State set the tone from the start with a goal within three minutes after the game began and proceeded to put on a scoring clinic en route to a blowout win over the Huskies to advance to the regional final of the NCAA Tournament.

How It Happened

Head coach Guy Gadowsky opted against switching things up for the team’s first NCAA Tournament game since 2018. Connor McMenamin, Connor MacEachern, and Kevin Wall formed the starting forward line, while Christian Berger and captain Paul DeNaples were the top defensive pairing. Meanwhile, Liam Souliere started in goal.

Penn State started the game by controlling the puck and creating chances. That paid off, as Tyler Paquette scored at just 2:12 of the first period to give the Nittany Lions an early 1-0 lead, sending the Penn State faithful in attendance into a frenzy.

The Nittany Lions continued to play like the better team throughout the first half of the opening period with multiple scoring chances. One such chance involved Paquette nearly having his second goal of the game, ripping a shot that hit the crossbar.

At 10:15, Michigan Tech went on the game’s first power play after Tyler Gratton was called for a two-minute hooking penalty. Although they didn’t score, the Huskies showed signs of life on offense for the first time. They nearly converted a one-timer on a few occasions, but Penn State’s special teams cleared the puck, which halted the Huskies’ momentum.

Souliere made a tremendous glove save to stop a Michigan Tech breakaway chance shortly after the power play. It was easily the Huskies’ best chance of the game at that point, and it was arguably one of the most impressive saves Souliere has made this season.

Penn State took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, having outshot the Huskies 10-7 and dominating much of the opening period.

In the second period, Penn State continued its trend of scoring early. This time, Jarod Crespo’s shot slipped past Pietila to make it 2-0 at 4:34.

Similarly to the first period, the Nittany Lions kept the momentum and put pressure on the Huskies. Even more chances were traded, including a two-on-one chance in front of the net that Michigan Tech barely denied.

After a solid shift from Michigan Tech, the momentum shifted back to Penn State. Then, at 14:46 in the second period, Ashton Calder scored to make it 3-0.

The Nittany Lions continued to dominate the game and pour it on. At 18:45 in the second period, Christian Berger scored to give Penn State a commanding 4-0 lead heading into the second intermission.

Once again, Penn State scored early on to start the third period. This time, Kevin Wall got in on the action at 3:01 to make it 5-0 Penn State.

However, Penn State still wasn’t finished with the scoring extravaganza at PPL Center. Chase McLane sniped a shot from along the goal line that somehow ended up in the net to put Penn State up 6-0 at 12:29 in the third period.

Not long after, Michigan Tech took its first penalty of the game. Unsurprisingly, Connor McMenamin scored on the power play to make it 7-0 at 5:40 in the third period. Then, not even a minute later at 5:07, Ryan Kirwan made it 8-0.

That would do it for the game, as the many Penn State fans in attendance gave the team a standing ovation in the final minute of regulation when Nittany Lions closed out the Huskies 8-0 to advance to the regional final.

Takeaways:

  • Penn State established the tone from the start by scoring within five minutes after each period started. Setting the tone was exactly what the Nittany Lions had to do to win this game, which paid off.
  • Liam Souliere was a brick wall tonight, folks. He arguably played his best game of the season and preserved Penn State’s lead with multiple clutch saves while the game was only 1-0.
  • On the few occasions when Michigan Tech had momentum, Penn State was quick to shut it down. The defense and special teams were simply outstanding in tonight’s game.

What’s Next?

Penn State will face the winner of Michigan-Colgate on Sunday, March 26 at PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The time has not yet been announced.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a senior journalism major from Silver Spring, Maryland. He's an avid D.C sports fan and loves going to games in his free time. Nolan mainly writes about Penn State football, men's hockey, and baseball. You can follow him on Twitter @nolan_wick or email him at [email protected].

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