Michigan hands Penn State men’s hockey its first loss after thrilling 3rd period

Story posted November 6, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Josh Bartosik

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State found itself trailing by three goals entering the third period on Saturday night, but an electrifying third helped it pick up a point in a 4-3 overtime loss against No. 1 Michigan.

The loss marks the first for the blue and white, as it moves to 9-1-0 on the campaign.

In Friday’s contest, Penn State controlled the time of possession and the tempo seemingly the entire game, leading to its 3-0 win.

But on Saturday, the script seemed to flip for the first 52 minutes at Pegula Ice Arena, with the Wolverines dominating every facet of the game.

“We just played winning hockey and won our races and battles,” Michigan interim coach Brendan Naurato said.

Those races and battles were a crucial component in Michigan’s loss the previous night, but on Saturday, the maize and yellow swarmed Penn State early on.

The Wolverines’ blistering speed and talent led to them building a 3-0 lead by the end of the second period, exposing a Nittany Lions squad that couldn’t get their feet under them.

“Last night, we started the fight,” Penn State forward Kevin Wall said. “Tonight, it took us a while to get into it.”

“I thought we were too cute,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “We went from being a Penn State hockey team to a cute team, and we aren’t too good at being cute.”

The “cuteness” Gadowsky mentioned was evident throughout the first two periods, especially on special teams.

A huge deciding factor coming into this series was which team was going to win the special teams battle. In Friday’s matchup, Penn State was able to hold the Michigan power play off the board, helping the blue and white secure the victory.

But Saturday, the Michigan power play found the back of the net early off the stick of Mackie Samoskevich. And while it was the only power play goal given up by the Nittany Lions, their inability to convert on their own special teams' opportunities proved costly.

Penn State had a 5-on-3 at the end of the second period that leaked over into the third, giving the blue and white a prime opportunity to find a quick goal and gain momentum heading into the final frame.

Instead, the power play looked lackluster and put up a goose egg, making the Nittany Lions 1-for-16 on the man advantage in Big Ten play.

“We had absolutely zero identity on [the power play],” Gadowsky said. “I’m not happy at all with it.”

Despite their special teams' woes, Penn State found life late in the third period, as Tyler Paquette found the back of the net with around eight minutes to go in the game.

All that the Nittany Lions and Pegula Ice Arena needed was that one goal to get rocking once again. The blue and white scored two goals in under four minutes to make an improbable comeback.

“It was just electric,” Penn State forward Xander Lamppa said. “It was almost like I blacked out for a couple of minutes, and all of a sudden, the score is tied.”

Lamppa was the hero late in the third, tying the game at three as he and his line continued to be the most effective line for Penn State in Big Ten conference play.

Lamppa extended his goal streak to three games and, in the process, has also reached a career-high in goals.

“I loved how [that line] played. You had three guys playing simple and not cute,” Gadowsky said. “They’ve been the best line for a number of games now.”

The Nittany Lions climbed the impossible mountain and remarkably found a way to snag a point in the game, but that’s all they could muster as Adam Fantilli ended the game for Michigan just 24 seconds into overtime.

The blue and white will get a chance to showcase just how good it can be as it travels to Minnesota next week to battle the third-ranked Golden Gophers.

Wall wants to build off the momentum from the split and continue to play Penn State hockey next weekend and for the rest of the year.

“I think we are happy with how we battled back tonight, but it still stings,” Wall said. “But we just have to keep playing Penn State hockey, and we know how good we can be.”

Joshua Bartosik is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jsb6137@psu.edu.