No. 18 Penn State Men’s Hockey Downs No. 12 Michigan 5-3
No. 18 Penn State men’s hockey (6-4-3, 1-2-3 Big Ten) finished its away series against No. 12 Michigan (6-6-2, 2-4-3 Big Ten) with an emphatic 5-3 victory that marked the program’s 200th Division I win.
After receiving some help from Yost Ice Arena with a lucky bounce, Michigan jumped into the lead to start the game, but a power-play goal from Aiden Fink knotted the game up by the end of the first period. The second period was a rollercoaster with back-and-forth goals, but the Nittany Lions snuck out of the frame with a slim 4-3 lead. Ready for a slugfest, a penalty filled third period went Penn State’s way as a hat-trick empty netter from Fink sealed the deal for Penn State’s first conference win.
How It Happened
Following last night’s close loss, head coach Guy Gadowsky chose a gritty line to set the tone on the opening draw. Chase McLane, Tyler Paquette, and Jacques Bouquot started for the forwards while Christian Berger and Tanner Palocsik took position at the blue line. Liam Souliere got the nod in goal after a night off while Jake Barczewski returned for the Wolverines.
The tilt started evenly with both sides taking two shots a piece in the first two minutes. Parity was broken with 17:40 left in the first period, though, as Carson Dyck was caught holding a Wolverine in the defensive end. Michigan’s power play wasn’t too effective on the early advantage as the Nittany Lion penalty kill held it to just two shots with an extra skater.
Michigan tallied the game’s first goal at just over 10 minutes played with a benign zone entry turned calamity. Garrett Schifsky opted for a routine dump-and-chase play as he crossed the blue line, only for Yost Ice to give him a bounce right behind Souliere. The puck deflected off the senior tender and into the net to set the score at 1-0 for the Wolverines.
Penn State caught a break the following play when Jacob Truscott was sent to the box for hooking. On its first power play of the game, the blue and white unit mustered up net-front opportunities on net-front opportunities. Eventually, Aiden Fink found the time and space to tap one home and tie the game at 1-1 with 6:38 to play.
Penn State held onto the momentum as the period waned, extending its shots lead to 14-5 by the end of the first frame.
Michigan wasted no time getting its offense back online to start the second period, earning a three-on-two rush as the clock passed the 19-minute mark. Dylan Duke slid the puck to Luca Fantilli at the top of the circle where his snap shot snuck past Souliere to claim a 2-1 lead for the Wolverines.
On the next play, Reese Laubach was caught tripping on the forecheck, gifting Michigan a second power play opportunity. Souliere and Dylan Gratton soaked up three long shots while the rest of the Nittany Lions shut down anything up close to kill off the infraction and get back to even strength.
Not out of the woods yet, though, Jarod Crespo was sent to the sin bin with 14:14 left in the second period when his physical breakup of another odd-man rush was called for hooking. The Nittany Lions defense held strong once more to hold off the nation leading Wolverine power play, this time only allowing four shots.
Now back at strength, Penn State caught Michigan off guard as it went for a line change. Matt DiMarsico looked to slow the play up at the blue line to wait for help but saw a streaking Fink behind enemy lines. He zipped it quickly to the winger’s stick, who went forehand-backhand-forehand to pull Barczewski off his line and bury a cheeky goal.
Hey, how are ya! pic.twitter.com/SNp3Q9yFng— Penn State Men’s Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) November 19, 2023
Michigan wouldn’t let the tie stand for long, though, getting a quick goal just 30 seconds later as Nick Moldenhauer deflected Seamus Casey’s shot just over Souliere’s pads to push back in front. The scoreboard read 3-2 for the Wolverines with 10:56 to play in the second period.
Penn State saw a golden opportunity come and go as Barczewski lost track of the puck at the goalmouth with 9:34 to play. As the goalie scrambled to freeze the puck, Paquette, Bouquout, Simon Mack, and McLane fired shots into the pileup in the crease, but the play was blown dead as the puck finally came to rest.
Liam Souliere stonewalled T.J. Hughes with 5:43 left in the frame to keep the Nittany Lions within one, stretching all the way out to snag the snapshot out of the air and freeze the play.
Translating the momentum from the big save into the offensive zone, Penn State’s offense peppered the Wolverine defense and dominated the ice like a power play unit for a solid minute. The sustained pressure broke paydirt on a Paquette deflection that snuck past Barczewski for the 3-3 tying goal.
The Nittany Lions kept the ice tilted at the Wolverines with big hits on the forecheck and superior breakout plays. Michigan’s inability to pressure the rush resulted in Laubach gaining the high slot with no one to contest a shot. He fired on a heavily screened cage, the puck deflecting off of Fink’s back before trickling into the goal for Penn State’s first lead of the game with 1:16 left in the second period.
Ye Olde Flutter Puck! pic.twitter.com/1kEF71685z— Penn State Men’s Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) November 19, 2023
Michigan looked hungry to equalize the score before the end of the frame, but after a four-shot siege, the second period expired with the Nittany Lions in the lead 4-3.
The third period opened in Penn State’s favor as Truscott was called for tripping. The power play unit sent four shots goal bound in the first minute and a half on the advantage, the last of which causing an altercation between Xander Lamppa and Josh Eernisse. Both players were assessed roughing minors, setting up a further minute of four-on-four play before the Wolverines enjoyed a minute of power play themselves.
The special teams sequence didn’t see much offensive action, the penalty boxes clearing with just a single shot on net.
Eernisse kept up the wrecking ball playstyle after leaving the box in an attempt to spark the Michigan offense back to life. With 9:55 to play in the game, he collided with McLane following an offsides whistle and after some shoving, both players were escorted to the penalty box for roughing.
Michigan’s penalty woes continued a minute later, this time a tripping infraction as Casey cut down Fink behind his net. The four-on-three chance was held off by the Wolverines with timely puck dumps. Penn State’s five-on-four advantage came up fruitless, too.
As the game returned to even strength, the pace of play slowed as physical, gritty hockey took over with fatigue setting in. Just three pucks found the net through the next five minutes.
The Wolverines pulled their goalie for an extra skater with 2:42 to play, desperate to knot the scoreboard up before the buzzer. Michigan collected a serious onslaught with its fourth forward but Penn State did well to effectively clear the puck before it could threaten a goal.
Fink put the final nail in the coffin, blocking a shot before breaking out. He took a lead pass from DiMarsico and tapped the the puck home for a hat trick.
A Crespo roughing minor didn’t do much for the Wolverines with 11 seconds on the clock, the final score standing 5-3 for Penn State.
- The “Kid Line” is on fire. Fink, DiMarsico, and Laubach are leading by example in their freshman year, combining for a deadly efficient forward line that is clutch beyond its years. Tonight, they tallied four goals and six assists as a unit. Fink nabbed a hat trick, too.
- Penn State and Michigan aren’t friendly in any sport, especially on the ice. A game with 12 penalties wasn’t what Gadowsky said he wanted going into the weekend, but his Nittany Lions were rock solid on the penalty kill. The unit shut down the nation’s top power play seven times.
- The Nittany Lions stood by their goaltender tonight, blocking an unreal 19 shots en-route to shutting the Wolverines down. They’ll be happy to have the week off to ice up and recover.
The Nittany Lions are back at Pegula Ice Arena next week for an out-of-conference series with Lindenwood starting Thursday, November 24. Puck drop is set for 4 p.m.
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About the Author
Kotelnicki would be James Franklin’s sixth offensive coordinator at Penn State.
The Nittany Lions are now 11-0 all time against the Bulldogs.
The Blue-White Game returned to its traditional format in 2023.