Series Preview: Michigan

Audio/Story posted October 27, 2017 in CommRadio, Sports by Sports Staff

Josh Starr, Joe Murphy and Eric Ohlson preview Penn State's upcoming Big Ten series against the Michigan Wolverines at Pegula Ice Arena.


This weekend, No. 15 Penn State plays host to the rival Michigan Wolverines at Pegula Ice Arena. The Wolverines rank just outside the Top 20,  according to

Penn State comes into this matchup with a record of 3-3 after splitting the series with
American International. Michigan is representing a record of 3-1 after sweeping the University of Vermont.

The Nittany Lions beat American International 7-5 on last Thursday and then lost 3-2 in overtime on Friday. The Wolverines beat Vermont by scores of 4-1 and 3-2.

Penn State is led by forward Denis Smirnov, who has a team-leading four goals and 10 points overall. Smirnov led all freshmen in scoring last year with 47 points and looks to be on pace for another great season.

The Big Ten champions of last year also receive contributions from forward Andrew Sturtz and defensemen Cole Hults. Sturtz and Hults have totaled five points each through six games this season.

Goaltender Peyton Jones has made some highlight reel plays this season, particularly a crazy glove save against Minnesota. Jones has had some ups and downs in this early season, but look for him to get back to being one of the best goalies on hockey this weekend against Michigan.

The Wolverines have a balanced scoring attack as forward Josh Norris is leading the team in scoring with four points through four games. Norris is tied for the team lead with two goals and has attempted the most points on the team.

Michigan forwards Jake Slaker and Will Lockwood have also been great contributors for the Wolverines outside of Norris. Slaker and Lockwood have accumulated three points each this season. Slaker also has a game winning goal against University of Vermont this past Saturday.

The Wolverines have used a two-goaltender system so far this season as both Jack LaFontaine and Hayden Lavigne have each played two games. LaFontaine has only allowed two goals in his two games, while Lavigne has allowed five goals in two games. The goaltenders have been a strength early this season for Michigan.

A matchup to watch in this series should be the special team units for both teams. Penn State has been superb on the man advantage this season, as they are 33 percent on the power play. However, the Wolverines have not allowed a goal on 82 percent of their man down situations.

Michigan’s power play has struggled in this early season as they are only converting on nine percent of their power play opportunities. Penn State is killing opponents power plays 86 percent of the time.

So, whichever team converts more on the man advantage could be a huge difference maker in who wins this series.

Another thing to watch is how Penn State has flourished in the second period, but struggled mightily in the third period. The Nittany Lions have outscored opponents 10-5 in the second period, but have been outscored 8-5 in the third period.

The Wolverines have been dominant in the third period, as they have outscored their opponents 9-2. So, if the game is close late, Michigan could have an edge due to their success in the third period.

This matchup of two rivals should be very entertaining this weekend, but the Nittany Lions should have an edge over Michigan due to offensive firepower and being back at Pegula Ice Arena, which should extremely loud.


Camden Tofil is a freshman majoring in advertising/public relations. To contact him, email

About the Contributors

Eric Ohlson's photo

Eric Ohlson

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Eric Ohlson is a member of ComRadio’s sports and production staffs. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism and minoring in Kinesiology and is a member of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. Eric has done play-by-play for Penn State lacrosse, volleyball, softball, soccer and hockey, and has served as a producer for volleyball and hockey. A big hockey fan, Eric is the current host of ComRadio’s NHL talk show, “The Sin Bin.” One day, Eric hopes to being doing radio or TV play-by-play for lacrosse, soccer and hockey. Outside of ComRadio, Eric is the VP of the Hands For Heroes Club and spent two years in Army ROTC. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Joe Esquivel-Murphy's photo

Joe Esquivel-Murphy

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Joe Esquivel-Murphy is a senior from Bay Head, NJ, majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. He has done play-by-play and beat writes for almost all the sports from CommRadio.  His two talk shows, Murph’s Lounge and Road to Russia, covered various different topics as the later previewed the qualification process to the World Cup with the former discussing relevant sports events. Joe also had an internship for Shore Sports Network (an affiliate of Town Square Media) before his junior year. To contact Joe, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Camden Tofil's photo

Camden Tofil

Senior / Advertising

Camden Tofil is a senior from Sykesville, Maryland majoring in advertising. Camden is a host of the talk show Sunset Sports every Wednesday from 4:15-5:15 p.m. Camden aspires to be a part of an advertising department for a sports franchise or a beat writer for a sports network. You can reach him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).