|1st Period||2nd Period||3rd Period||OT||Final|
I hope you were able to watch this game tonight because it was an instant classic. It took three game-tying goals, but Penn State kept coming back in as big a rivalry game as there is in the Big Ten. Peyton Jones showed flashes of clutch play while the Nittany Lions had their never-quit attitude on full display. It’s always fun to beat Michigan, but even more so when it involves a late tying goal and an OT winner.
Will Lockwood (2)
Dexter Dancs (1)
Andrew Sturtz (4)
Denis Smirnov (5)
Dexter Dancs (2)
Alex Limoges (1)
Cooper Marody (1)
Chase Berger (1)
Blake Gober (1)
But the start sucked, plain and simple. Michigan scored on its first two shots, but at least the second was a good opportunity. Two minutes into the game, Will Lockwood got tied up by three Nittany Lions but still got the shot off, somehow sliding it right through Peyton Jones’ five-hole. Immediately after, a defensive breakdown let Cooper Marody set up Dexter Dancs for an easy one-timer. Even though Penn State outshot Michigan by more than double, it still felt like the Wolverines controlled play. Andrew Sturtz finally broke through with four minutes left, as a wrist shot off of a 1-on-1 snuck past Jack LaFontaine to cut the score to 2-1.
Despite all of the momentum Michigan seemed to have built in the first period, the second was all Penn State. Part of that was because of a couple consecutive penalty calls on the Wolverines, but part was simply Penn State rebounding from the ugly first. Halfway through, after two solid powerplay chances, Denis Smirnov scored his fifth of the year on a snipe that beat LaFontaine low-glove. Dancs responded on the powerplay, but even though his team left the period with a lead, it felt like Penn State was the better team.
Penn State came out hot in the final period of regulation, and just as they had done all night, the line of Limoges-Barratt-Folkes piled up chances. Limoges finally scored the first of his collegiate career to tie the game, but moments later, Marody retook the lead. Both teams traded blows from that point on; in a game in which it seemed like one team dominated play for a long stretch, they matched up really well late.
Then, everything happened. With a minute and a half left, Andrew Sturtz danced to the front of the net but couldn’t stuff it home. A scrum ended with the puck popping out to Chase Berger, who couldn’t have picked a better time to score his first of the season. That forced overtime, and Jones continued to stand tall for the first minute of overtime, then James Robinson and Blake Gober crashed the net in tandem. The puck ended up behind LaFontaine, and after a brief review, Gober was credited with the goal that finished the Wolverines.
Quotes and Notes
- Gadowsky on his team’s effort, compared to weeks past: “I thought we played our best game, 100 percent the most to our identity.”
- On the OT winner: “Just an unbelievable play from Jimmy Pucks, just a tremendous play.”
- And on new Michigan coach, Mel Pearson: “Mel’s suit is really nice.”
- Blake Gober, when asked what he saw on his winner: "Nothing, really."
- To win a tight game like this, you need to do the little things right. After getting dominated in faceoffs in recent weeks, Penn State had the advantage in this game 36-33. Berger, Sucese, and Barratt were all positive players.
- Speaking of Barratt, you wouldn’t have guessed that this was his second collegiate game. In the opening moments, Evan Barratt crashed into the boards and laid a big hit on a Wolverine. Whatever injury kept him out of the last five games was immediately tested, but he did more than just stay in in this one. All game he proved why the Blackhawks drafted him in June. Great skater, big hitter, awesome positioning, and he did everything but score.
- Peyton Jones shows up in every big moment, plain and simple. He didn’t have his best game overall, with two or three ugly goals allowed. But he never let it get out of reach and made plenty of saves in the last few moments, allowing his team to get the win.
- Again, the best line in the whole game for either team was absolutely Barratt’s. It was evident early on that they’d make an impact by the time the clock hit zero, and even though they only had 12 shots, Folkes’ game-tying goal with assists from both of his linemates was huge. You have to imagine this trio sticks together in the near future and they’ll continue to dominate.
- This game was just so much fun. It had every element you want in a big win: it was against Michigan, it needed multiple comebacks, and it needed a sudden-death winner. Tomorrow’s game at 8 has similar potential, so if you’re in town, check it out.