|1st Period||2nd Period||3rd Period||Final|
Just as the heartbreaker in Columbus came to an end, Penn State’s hockey team took the ice trying to cap off a series sweep against Michigan. The Nittany Lions won 5-4 in overtime on Friday in as fun of a game as you could watch. Things went very differently on Saturday, to say the least. (And my apologies for posting this Monday instead of right after the game but, you know, it was a big weekend.)
Tony Calderone (2)
Tony Calderone (3)
Brendan Warren (2)
Nate Sucese (3)
T. Hamilton, Berger
Dexter Dancs (3)
Nick Pastujov (1)
Nikita Pavlychev (2)
Michigan coach Mel Pearson continued his early-season strategy of having his goalies split time, as Hayden Lavigne replaced Jack LaFontaine for this one. Penn State stuck with Peyton Jones, but any momentum he had from his late-game heroics the night before was immediately quelled. Tony Calderone opened the scoring four minutes into the game with the only goal of the first period. The Wolverines needed to kill off a five-minute major and a two-minute minor to escape the frame with the lead, and that’s what they did as the Nittany Lions’ powerplay was shut out all game.
Calderone netted his second halfway through the next period, then Brendan Warren (an Arizona draft pick who was recently traded to the Flyers) added to the already commanding lead. It wasn’t until the dying moments of the period that Penn State responded, with Nate Sucese’s third of the season. There wouldn’t be a comeback like in Friday’s game, however, because Dexter Dancs and Nick Pastujov put the game out of reach early in the third.
- What happens in the faceoff circle has been interesting to follow all season, as the usual strength has been a major weakness through eight games. In this game, Penn State performed better than usual, though it was still a 35-36 loss. Sucese and Barratt were big winners while Berger only took five draws the entire game -- with his struggles on the draw evident, it looks like his line joins play on the fly now instead of at the start of a play.
- Brandon Biro and Andrew Sturtz sat this game out with injuries, which clearly hurt. Brett Murray and Adam Pilewicz took their places in the lineup, and while they’re fine players themselves, Biro and Sturtz bring such unique skillsets to the team that it’s impossible to really replace them.
- By my count, Penn State was on the powerplay for 14:37, including a five-minute chance and the final minute-plus of 6-on-3, and scored zero goals with the advantage. The team went 0-6 on the night while its penalty kill went 1-for-2. Penn State’s special teams have been hot and cold all season, and this game was an unfortunate display of the latter.
- I think Michigan simply has too much skill to lose twice in two days. Josh Norris, Will Lockwood, and Quinn Hughes came into the weekend with hot hands, but they were held to two points total. Shutting down those top players just opened the door for others though, as across the two games, Cooper Marody had one goal and five assists and Dexter Dancs had three goals and two assists.
- Starting 4-4-0 (2-2-0 Big Ten) is fine, obviously not close to ideal, but it’s not time to hit the panic button yet. Penn State didn’t lose its fourth game until late January last season, but that was a much easier schedule. Only the AIC overtime loss this year is bad; losing to Clarkson, Minnesota, and Michigan is understandable, and the Nittany Lions managed splits against the latter two. Three of Penn State’s next four weeks are against pretty weak opponents, so their first real chance to pick up some points starts this weekend.
- That being said, with a home series against Mercyhurst coming up, Penn State basically needs two wins. They have to break above .500 eventually, and a loss to the Lakers would be a pretty big hint that this team is worse than last year. Both games are at 7 p.m. this Friday and Saturday at Pegula Ice Arena and once again, neither are televised.