Game Preview: Penn State vs. Michigan
The Penn State Nittany Lions have unfinished business this season and defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 3-1 in the Big 10 quarterfinals was just the first step.
Next up on the schedule for the Nittany Lions is the Michigan Wolverines, the same team who eliminated them in the semifinals just one season prior.
The two teams have yet to square off this season as their game on March 3 was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Historically the two squads are very evenly matched as the all-time series is tied 11-11-4 and in the Big 10 tournament, it is tied 3-3-0.
The Nittany Lions entered the season with one goal in mind and that was to bring a championship back to Happy Valley and they are well on their way. They currently have a record of 7-1-1 and are ranked second in the conference and NO. 14 in the nation.
In their 3-1 victory over Ohio State, Penn State was led by junior transfer Daniel Bloyou who had a career five points registering two goals and an assist. Freshman Tyger Evans scored what would be the game-winning goal which was the first of his collegiate career.
The Nittany Lions have one of the best offensives in the country averaging 1.9 goals a game which ranks second in the conference just behind Indiana. Leading the way offensively has been Bloyou who has scored six goals and two assists for 14 points on the season.
Peter Mangione and Pierre Reedy have been great this season as they have both scored four goals and two assists for 10 points.
The Penn State defense has been great this season allowing just nine goals the entire season and leading the way defensively has been Brandon Hackenberg.
The Nittany Lions have one of the best goalkeepers in the nation in Kris Shakes. Shakes has allowed just seven goals all season long and has made 25 saves.
The key for Penn State will be if they can get contributions from everyone offensively and not just rely on Bloyou, Mangione, and Reedy. Look for Liam Butts who had nine goals last season but has yet to score this season to step up and have a big game.
As for the Wolverines, they have enjoyed a solid season going 6-3-1 and entered the tournament ranked 3rd.
The Wolverines were almost upset in their quarterfinal matchup against in-state rival the Michigan State Spartans as the Wolverines came away with a 1-0 victory.
The lone goal for the Wolverines was scored by Kevin Buca in the 53rd minute.
The Michigan offense is extremely balanced with three players having over eight points. Buca on the season has three goals and three assists for nine points, Marc Ybarra has tallied two goals and five assists for nine points, and Jackson Ragen has registered four goals for eight points on the season.
The Wolverines play an attacking style of defense which puts pressure on their opponents to make crisp passes. Michigan has allowed just 10 goals in 10 games this campaign.
Goalkeeper Owen Finnerty has been great this season. In their victory against the Spartans, he made five seasons and on the season he has allowed just six goals in nine games and has made 21 saves.
If Michigan wants to come away victorious and upset the Nittany Lions they will have to shut down Bloyou and make someone else beat them.
Prediction: Penn State 2, Michigan 1
Alex Rocco is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.