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No. 2 Penn State Men’s Hockey Drops 2-1 Heartbreaker To No. 1 Michigan In NCAA Regional Final

No. 2-seeded Penn State men’s hockey (22-16-1) fell 2-1 to No. 1-seeded Michigan (26-11-3) in overtime in the NCAA Regional Final Sunday night at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

In front of a sell-out crowd with a strong Penn State presence, the game came down to the wire. When it looked like the first two periods would be scoreless, the Nittany Lions broke the ice to make it 1-0 with barely over one minute to go in the second period.

On its fourth power play attempt, Michigan tied the game 1-1 in the third period, with standout forward Adam Fantilli scoring the goal. Despite solid scoring chances from both teams throughout the period, the game went into overtime.

Mackie Samoskevich quickly ended Penn State’s season less than one minute into overtime, as Michigan advanced to the Frozen Four with a 2-1 win.

How It Happened

With a spot to the first Frozen Four in program history on the line, head coach Guy Gadowsky didn’t change a thing in his lineup from Friday’s 8-0 blowout win over Michigan Tech. 

In front of a loud and predominately Penn State crowd, the game was underway. Michigan immediately ripped a shot that went wide of the goal, but Penn State cleared the puck and went on the attack. The Nittany Lions were patient, passing the puck and waiting for the right opportunity to score.

That chance never came, and soon enough, the Wolverines were back in control of the puck. They had multiple close scoring chances, including when the puck almost crossed the goal line after slipping past Liam Souliere. 

Then, Ryan Kirwan took a tripping minor. Unsurprisingly, Michigan firmly controlled the puck with the one-man advantage for the first time in the game. But, Penn State’s gritty, physical defense cleared the puck numerous times and killed the penalty. 

Although Michigan appeared to control the puck more often than not, Penn State had some dangerous scoring chances. With four minutes left in the first period, the Nittany Lions set up a two-on-one that Erik Portillo barely saved. For a moment, the arena erupted, thinking it was a goal.

Michigan challenged the call, and upon review, it was determined the puck didn’t cross the line. 

After that, both teams exchanged two-on-one plays with both Souliere and Portillo making fantastic saves. The first period ended momentarily afterward with the score still 0-0. 

Both teams’ fast-paced, high-tempo offenses were on display to start the second period. Michigan started with a fast scoring chance that Souliere saved, then Penn State went right down the ice and took a shot on Portillo, which was saved. 

The second period continued to be an intense one. Neither Penn State nor Michigan could establish puck control for lengthy time periods, as both defenses stepped up the physicality. Meanwhile, both goaltenders continued to make impressive saves. 

With five minutes left in the second period, Michigan went on the power play for the second time after Tyler Gratton received a two-minute penalty for goaltender interference. Once again, though, Penn State’s special teams came up big and killed the penalty. 

Then, Penn State had its first power play of the game when Jackson Hallum was assessed a hooking minor with slightly over one minute remaining in the period. This time, however, Penn State capitalized. With just 1:02 left in the second period, Connor MacEachern picked up a deflection and sent a shot flying past Portillo to make it 1-0 Penn State. 

The Penn State faithful at PPL Center erupted into celebration, applauding the Nittany Lions as they went into the locker room.

After five minutes of back-and-forth hockey to start the third period, Michigan went on the power play for the third time after Christian Sarlo took a minor penalty for kneeing. And, just as they had done twice before, Penn State’s special teams valiantly found a way to kill the penalty. 

From there, both teams played 10 minutes of more of the same. Neither team generated much offense, with defense and goaltending dominating the period.

Then, Michigan went on the power play for the fourth time after Carter Schade took a two-minute holding penalty with eight minutes to go in regulation. This time, Michigan capitalized and tied the game 1-1 with Adam Fantilli finishing a rebound at 12:09 in the third period. 

The desperation on the ice ramped up after Michigan’s goal. Penn State seized control of the puck, taking shot after shot on Portillo and forcing turnovers. The Nittany Lions flew to the puck and continued making life difficult for the Wolverines’ offense. 

With one minute left in regulation, Michigan called a timeout. It didn’t accomplish anything in the third period, as the clock ticked away and the game went to overtime. 

Less than one minute into overtime, Mackie Samoskevich ripped a shot past Souliere and into the net. The Wolverines came pouring onto the ice in celebration, while the Nittany Lions hung their heads in shock.

Michigan stormed back to win 2-1 in overtime, ending Penn State’s season in heartbreaking fashion.


  • Liam Souliere was exceptional despite the loss. He made 41 saves, many of them being very impressive. He certainly isn’t to blame for the loss.
  • Penn State’s special teams were also fantastic. The penalty-killing unit killed three of four Michigan power plays, while the power play went one for one.
  • It’s hard to see Penn State’s season end this way, but there’s so much to be proud of. The Nittany Lions went toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in America while also becoming one in the process. That includes today, and there’s a legitimate reason for optimism about the program’s future.

What’s Next?

With the loss, Penn State’s season is now over.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a sophomore majoring in journalism. From the Maryland side of the D.C. suburbs, Nolan likes using Old Bay and is a diehard Washington sports fan, which isn't fun these days. If you want to keep in touch with Nolan, follow him on Instagram @_nolanwick or on Twitter @nolan_wick.

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