Penn State Falls to Michigan 5-1 in Opening Game of Series

Story posted November 12, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by Evan Popalis

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa- With over 6,000 fans in attendance for the series opener between Penn State and Michigan, Pegula Ice Arena welcomed a talented Wolverines squad.

Michigan proved to be too much to handle in the opener as it stamped a 5-1 victory into the books.

The first 15 minutes witnessed a ferocious forecheck game from the Nittany Lions, constantly checking Michigan’s sticks throughout the period.

“We’ve actually played very well defensively for stretches and usually early,” coach Guy Gadowsky said following the loss.

Penn State lost its legs at the tail end of the opening frame, allowing the Wolverines to capitalize. Graduate Student forward Luke Morgan initiated the scoring in the contest on a shot from the doorstep that freshman forward Dylan Duke assisted on.

The Wolverines maintained that one-goal advantage heading into the first intermission.

Sophomore first-line center Matty Beniers extended the Wolverine lead as he blasted a one-timer  from the right circle that beat Penn State senior goaltender Oskar Autio. Beniers’ tally was assisted by sophomore defender Owen Power and sophomore forward Kent Johnson.

Senior forward Ben Copeland found the back of the net on a rebound that went in off his skate. After a short review, the referees determined that Copeland did not attempt to kick the puck into the goal.

Boston Bruin product junior forward Johnny Beecher scored his second goal of the season at the end of the second period. Power and sophomore defender Steve Holtz assisted on the third Michigan goal of the night.

Following the first 40 minutes of play, the Wolverines beheld a 3-1 lead.

About halfway through the final period, Michigan snuck another puck into the back of the net. Senior forward Garrett Van Wyhe scored his third of the 2021 campaign with an assist from Beecher.

Beniers added the final tally with the same assist partners as his first goal in Power and Johnson.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft made his presence felt. Buffalo Sabres pick Owen Power recorded three assists on the night. All of his assists were the primaries with two coming on the power play.

Seattle Kraken product and No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft Beniers spotted two goals on the power play. He now patrols the Big Ten lead in goals with eight.

Penn State outshot Michigan in all three periods; yet, inevitably could only manage a single goal.

Autio recorded 19 saves on 24 shots in total from the blue and maize. He found his second assist of the season on the Copeland lamplighter.

Michigan netminder Erik Portillo answered the call in the opener. The sophomore saw 34 shots and stopped 33 en route to his ninth victory of the season.

Michigan now owns a record of 9-2-0 (4-1-0) following the victory against the Nittany Lions.

Penn State slides to 6-4-0 (0-3-0) in the 2021 campaign. It has lost its previous three games after the home loss Thursday night.

Intangibles are aspects of the game that Gadowsky believes his team needs to be more successful.

“Mental toughness may be the right word, but confidence might come in there as well,” Gadowsky said, detailing the thought process of his team.

Coming into the series, both squads had issues staying out of the box. The Nittany Lions committed four penalties, while the Wolverines were down a man on three separate occasions in the opener.

Penn State and Michigan will meet once more at Pegula Ice Arena on Friday night. The puck drop is set to take place at 7 p.m.

Evan Popalis is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email

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Evan Popalis

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Evan Popalis is a third-year from Lititz, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism. He is a writer, analyst, and play-by-play commentator for the CommRadio sports department. His writings include weekly NHL betting previews along with power rankings for the NHL and NFL. He appears weekly on the NHL Podcast as a host and analyst reviewing the previous week’s action. If you would like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).