‘We Want To Win Every Game’: Penn State Men’s Hockey Hungry For Revenge On Michigan
Earlier this year, Penn State’s dreams of reaching its first-ever Frozen Four Tournament were ripped away in a heartbreaking overtime loss to conference rival Michigan.
For the first time since January, the Nittany Lions will travel to Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor to take on the Wolverines. Penn State met Michigan five times last season and only won once, a shutout for Penn State and second of the season for goaltender Liam Souliere.
For Penn State men’s hockey fans, the weekend clash is a long-awaited revenge series. However, for head coach Guy Gadowsky, the battle against Michigan is just another series that needs to be put away.
“Do we need more motivation to beat Michigan? No,” Gadowsky said. “Big Ten is Big Ten. I don’t think there is a team in the league that we will never not be ready to play. I don’t think we need any more motivation.”
Gadowsky’s confident attitude toward the Wolverines translated over to forwards Dylan Lugris and Tyler Paquette.
Lugris, a junior, expressed a sense of preparedness for the weekend.
“We want to win every game obviously,” Lugris said. “We were one shot away from the tournament last year, so it’s definitely something that we talked about a lot of summer, so yeah, it’s gonna be good to go there.”
“I mean, [playing Michigan] definitely adds a chip on our shoulder for guys returning,” Paquette added. “We take every weekend kind of the same but especially playing in Yost.”
In the USCHO rankings, Michigan is ranked uncharacteristically low at No. 12, while Penn State moved down one spot this week to go to No. 18.
Michigan most recently faced now-No. 6 Minnesota at Yost Ice Arena, splitting the series in a shootout won by sophomore defenseman Seamus Casey. However, it was swept by the No. 1 team in the country, Wisconsin, the previous weekend.
Michigan sophomore forward Rutger McGroarty is tied for fifth in points per game, scoring 18 goals in 12 games. Along with McGroarty, Michigan has four other players among the top 50-point scorers in the nation. No Penn Staters are currently ranked in the top 50.
In other statistics, Michigan and Penn State are similar. Both teams are in the top 50 for face-off win percentage. Michigan is ranked No. 5, while Penn State locked in at No. 37, but the sides are nearly knotted in scoring defense at No. 31 or No. 34, respectively.
“We just have to be consistent with how we play,” Lugris said. “We got to play really hard on them and force them to turn the puck over, kind of get in their head a little bit that’s that’s pretty much it. We just want to play our game and we don’t change too much up.”
The main concern is goaltending against the No. 1 power-play percentage team in the nation. Gadowsky is still unsure about the goaltending for the weekend and doesn’t have a long-term plan, he said.
Penn State is splitting time between Souliere and Noah Grannan in the net. Souliere has registered 152 saves through eight games, while Grannan recorded 90 through just four games.
“I think we’ve had very good goaltending. I don’t think we’ve had great goaltending.”
With goalkeeping up in the air, Penn State’s traditionally disciplined team must shine in the series to avoid giving Michigan a chance on the power play.
Game one is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, November 17, while game two is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 18, at Yost Ice Arena. The games will be televised on BTN+.
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The Onward State crew headed to the Motor City for some football, pizza, and a swing set overlooking Canada.
Tickets for the event will go on sale 10 a.m. Friday, December 1.