Hockey Recap: Penn State Earns First Win, Series Split Against Michigan

By Jacob Cheris on December 4, 2020 at 8:30 am
Evan Bell celebrates his first goal of the season on Wednesday against Michigan. The Nittany Lions and Wolverines split the two-games series.
Penn State Athletics

Game One – Michigan 3, Penn State 1

Game One Box Score
  1st 2nd 3rd Final
Michigan 1 1 1 3
Penn State 2 1 3 6

From the drop of the puck, the Wolverines were all over the Nittany Lions. They were getting into the zone easily, their passes were crisp, and they were getting shots on goal. Just five minutes into the game, Penn State failed to break the puck out and Michigan was able to capitalize on the turnover with Nolan Moyle firing a loose puck five-hole on Oskar Autio. Slow starts have been a theme so far for Penn State in 2020.

"We've been careless in the neutral zone. It's not that we didn't have the mentality, we've actually been careless in the neutral zone and ended up playing in our end," head coach Guy Gadowsky said after the loss. "It's an execution issue, not a mentality issue." 

Game One Scoring Summary
Team Scoring Time (Pd.)
UM Nolan Moyle (2)
Van Wyhe, Truscott
4:10 (1)
UM Michael Pastujov (4) - PP
Brisson, Bordeleau
7:21 (2)
PSU Evan Bell (1)
Talvitie, Wall
11:00 (3)
UM Matty Beniers (3) - EN
18:18 (3)

Penn States' special teams continued to struggle, as it allowed a Michigan power-play goal by Michael Pastujov. He was left wide open below the goal line and no one had him covered. On the flip side, Penn State failed to capitalize on powerplays of its own, going 0-for-2 on the evening.

Despite the loss, Autio played very well in net. 

"It gives us a lot of confidence playing in front of him," captain Alex Limoges said. "If we end up making a mistake, we know he's got our back. It allows us to be a little more aggressive."

The lone Penn State goal came off of an odd-man rush. Aarne Talvitie broke through a Michigan defender and fed it over to Evan Bell for his first goal of the season. This did bring the deficit to one, but it wasn't enough to get the job done. Penn State had several high-quality scoring chances towards the end of the game, but Michigan goaltender Strauss Mann was a brick wall.

The Wolverines buried an empty-netter to cap off the night after Penn State couldn't get firm possession of the puck after bringing on the extra skater.

Game Two – Penn State 9, Michigan 5

Game Two Box Score
  1st 2nd 3rd Final
Michigan 2 2 1 5
Penn State 2 5 2 9

If the scoreline is any indication, Penn State seemed to have no issues forgetting about the Game One result. The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals from Talvitie (1) and Jared Westcott (1) after just 2:24 had passed on the game clock. Penn State even had a 5-minute power play after a major penalty by Nolan Moyle (who would miss the remainder of the game) and could not capitalize on it. The lead didn't last long, however, as Michigan scored two unanswered goals from Nick Blankenburg (the first one coming just 20 seconds after the Westcott tally).

Game Two Scoring Summary
Team Scoring Time (Pd.)
PSU Aarne Talvitie (1)
0:47 (1)
PSU Jared Westcott (1)
2:24 (1)
UM Nick Blankenburg (2)
2:44 (1)
UM Nick Blankenburg (3) - PP
Lambert, Johnson
14:09 (1)
UM Cam York (2)
Beecher, Becker
0:34 (2)
PSU Aarne Talvitie (2) - PP
Wall, Dowd Jr.
3:03 (2)
UM Thomas Bordeleau (3)
Brisson, Pehrson
5:18 (2)
PSU Jimmy Dowd Jr. (1)
Sarlo, Westcott
7:02 (2)
PSU Alex Limoges (2) - PP
Phillips, MacEachern
11:02 (2)
PSU Bobby Hampton (1)
Westcott, Snell
11:17 (2)
PSU Chase McLane (1) - PP
Limoges, Doherty
17:13 (2)
UM Brendan Brisson (2)
Bordeleau, Granowicz
13:39 (3)
PSU Bobby Hampton (2) - EN
18:14 (3)
PSU Tim Doherty (2) - PP
MacEachern, McLane
19:28 (3)

"The message was no different in the second period as it was after last night's game. It was just play the same way," Gadowsky said. "I thought we came out with much more sense of urgency and an intensity that we need to play well."

The second period was filled with back and forth action. The Wolverines opened the scoring with a backhand shot from Cam York, giving them their first lead of the night. They would retake said lead on a Thomas Bordeleau goal a few minutes later, but the rest of the period was all Penn State as it finally started seeing pucks hit the twine.

After struggling to do anything positive on the powerplay over the first five games of the season, the Lions exploded while on the man advantage in the second period, going 3-for-3 with goals from Talvitie (2), Alex Limoges (2), and Chase McLane (1). Jimmy Dowd Jr. (1) and Bobby Hampton (2) also got on the score-sheet while the teams were at full strength. When all was said and done, the Lions led the 7th-ranked Wolverines 7-4 after just 40 minutes of fast-paced, hard-hitting hockey.

Thanks to all of this, Michigan head coach Mel Pearson did the unthinkable – pull Strauss Mann. The Lions played more defensively as the game wound down and the chippiness picked up, but still added two more scores before all was said and done. The last goal was perhaps the prettiest, as Connor MacEachern showed off some absurd puck-handling before finding a wide-open Tim Doherty for the one-timer.

With the dominating win, Penn State broke a program record for most goals in a single period (5), while getting Oskar Autio his first win of the season. The netminder wasn't perfect (he did allow 5 goals) but he still made several fine stops, especially early when the score was tight.

With the much-needed and well-deserved win, the Nittany Lions move to 1-5 on the season. Next up, they get a chance to rest up and figure out what worked so well on Thursday while preparing for a two-game series with Arizona State. The Sun Devils, while playing exclusively Big Ten teams in 2020, are not part of the conference, so the results of the series will only affect Penn State's overall record.

The two will square off in the first game of the set on Friday, December 11. Be sure to check back to Roar Lions Roar before then as we break down the first six games of the season, dissect the first win, and preview Arizona State.

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