No. 7 Michigan Tops Penn State 3-1
Penn State (0-5) gave No. 7 Michigan (5-2) some headaches, but the Wolverines survived 3-1 on Wednesday night at Pegula Ice Arena.
The Lions started out slow with turnovers and the Wolverines jumped on each opportunity.
“We’ve been careless in the neutral zone,” Coach Guy Gadowsky said. “It’s an execution issue.”
Those neutral zone mishaps and mistakes in the back-end allowed Mel Pearson’s team to strike right out of the gate.
The Wolverines wasted next to no time getting on the board in the opening frame, as Nolan Moyle rifled a shot through Oskar Autio’s legs for a quick 1-0 lead just 4:10 into the game.
Strauss Mann was also tested quite a bit in that first period, as the Nittany Lions had a number of chances. However, Mann was able to keep the Wolverines in the driver’s seat.
Oskar Autio was peppered with shots early on in the second period. Autio robbed Moyle of his second goal of the game just two minutes in and the score remained 1-0.
“Really good to see him [Autio] playing like that,” captain Alex Limoges said.
The teams didn’t have much possession play until Tim Doherty was called for a high-stick at 5:43 and then Michigan went right back to work.
Michael Pastujov notched a power-play goal at 7:21 to give Michigan a 2-0 lead and the Nittany Lions were left scrambling to find any sort of offensive production.
Then after a Cam York penalty late in the period, Penn State really began its offensive push, but Mann continued to stand on his head.
Xander Lamppa had two stellar opportunities on the welcome mat, but the Michigan netminder had other ideas and kept the Nittany Lions off the scoreboard going into the final period of play.
Then, as the third period progressed, Penn State continued to penetrate the offensive zone and was rewarded near the halfway point of the period.
Evan Bell went top shelf on a sprawled-out Strauss Mann from the left faceoff circle at the 11:00 mark to get Penn State on the scoreboard.
The Nittany Lions began to smell blood, but Michigan’s defense was able to do just enough to hold onto that one-goal lead.
Mann added a few more highlight reel saves late on Clayton
Phillips, as Penn State led one last push. But the Wolverines were able to eventually add an empty netter courtesy of Matty Beniers.
“The fact that he [Mann] was excellent was not a surprise,” Gadowsky said.
Penn State won the shots-on-goal battle 39-31 and lost the faceoff battle by a slim 31-30 margin.
Autio saved 28 of 30 shots faced for save percentage of .933. Mann stood tall, saving 38 of 39 shots for a save percentage of .974.
“He [Autio] made some excellent saves and gave us a chance to win,” Gadowsky said.
The Nittany Lions and Wolverines will square off against each other Thursday night, back at Pegula Ice Arena with puck drop scheduled for 6 p.m on BTN+.
Christopher Hess is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.