Penn State vs. Michigan Series Preview
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - The inability to finish games proved to be the story for Penn State last weekend in Columbus. Now the tallest task of the season sits in front of the Nittany Lions.
The second-ranked Michigan Wolverines make their way to Pegula Ice Arena for a two-game series against the blue and white.
“I’m looking forward to it,” coach Guy Gadowsky said about the upcoming tilt. “From a coaching standpoint, this is a great opportunity to learn about ourselves.”
Michigan has gotten the better end of Penn State all-time with a record of 18-14-1. Last season witnessed these two clubs splitting a series in Pennsylvania, with the matchup in Michigan being canceled due to coronavirus issues within the Nittany Lions locker room.
It is no secret that the Wolverines have a loaded roster. The 2021 NHL Draft saw four Michigan players selected in the first five picks. First off the board went Owen Power and Matty Beniers. The No. 4 and No. 5 picks were Michigan’s Luke Hughes and Kent Johnson.
On the season, Michigan beholds an overall record of 8-2-0. This weekend will be the third series of Big Ten play for the Wolverines. They opened conference play with a split against Wisconsin, followed by a sweep of the Spartans of Michigan State.
Michigan sophomore forward Brendan Brisson has seven goals and 12 points this season. Johnson leads the Wolverines with 14 points.
Good things happen for Michigan when sophomore defenseman Jacob Truscott is on the ice. The Port Huron native has an eye-popping plus-minus at plus 14.
Michigan leads the Big Ten in scoring and ranks fourth in college hockey, averaging 4.10 goals per game. Special teams have been the difference-maker for the blue and maize. The Wolverines sit at an impressive 29.3 power-play percentage and 82.9 percent on the penalty kill.
Sophomore goaltender Erik Portillo has started all ten games for the visiting team. Portillo owns a 2.20 goals-against average accompanied by a .919 save percentage.
Penn State junior forward Connor MacEachern is riding high on a three-game goal streak as he enters the weekend. It is the longest goal and point streak of his career. He has two multi-goal games this season against Canisius and North Dakota.
Junior forward Kevin Wall is tied for the conference lead with Brisson with seven goals during the 2021 campaign. The Carolina Hurricanes product was held off the scoresheet for the first time in five games after failing to tally a point in the finale versus Ohio State.
Penn State remains in the rankings for the second week in a row, slotted in at No. 19. It is not a central talking point within the friendly confines of Pegula, however.
“I think it’s great to be ranked, but it’s nothing our team talks about,” Gadowsky said.
The Nittany Lions are still in search of their first conference win after being swept against the Buckeyes.
After failing to claim any points a week ago, Penn State will be up to the challenge and lean on the true home-ice advantage it will have this weekend.
Prediction: Series split
Evan Popalis is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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