Series Grades: Men’s Hockey vs. Michigan
Seventh-ranked Penn State was dealt its first sweep of the season at the hands of 25th-ranked Michigan, dropping the first game 6-0 and then recording a tie in the second game 4-4. However, Penn State lost the opportunity to gain an extra point as Garret Van Wyhe scored the 3-on-3 overtime winning goal.
Penn State currently stands with an overall record of 16-7-1and 8-5-1 in the Big Ten, tied for second place with Michigan State and trailing Ohio State with one more loss and tie.
Lets hand out the series grades for Penn State's last regular season series vs Michigan.
In-game one, the Penn State offense was neutralized by a determined Michigan defensive unit. Michigan dominated play in the neutral zone with its forecheck, causing limited chances for Penn State to set up any momentum in the Michigan zone. On special teams, Penn State failed to capitalize with the man advantage going 0-for-2 on the powerplay.
Michigan excelled at getting sticks on pucks, blocking passing planes, blocking shots, and frustrating a highly touted offense. In-game two, the offense woke up and produced four goals. Liam Folkes opened the scoring sniping a puck on the 5-3 powerplay as it bounced off teammate Alex Limoges. Nate Sucese and Evan Barratt would add goals in the second period making it 3-2. ]
Michigan would answer taking the lead 4-3. However, in the dying minutes of the third period with the net empty, Evan Barratt tied the game up finding his rebound and firing it past Strauss Mann. Penn State had its chances in 5-5 and 3-3 overtime to close the game but ultimately not finding the back of the net.
In-game one, the defensive unit played on its heels from puck drop to the end of the game as Michigan led in shots 47-31. Michigan dominated time in the Penn State zone, creating scoring opportunities due to clean breakouts and zone entries, along with finding consistent scoring opportunities in the slot as Penn State struggled to defend against Michigan's cycle game.
Consistent turnovers didn't help either. On a positive note, Penn State killed three of the four powerplays Michigan had. In-game two, the effort was improved but still not good enough as backup goalie Oskar Autio played on his feet and had to make save after save. A costly line change in 3-3 overtime would complete the sweep for Michigan, as Van Wyhe skated wide and sniped the game-winner. Ultimately allowing 11 goals in two games is a concern for the defensive unit.
Starter Peyton Jones had as worse of a night one could've had. In-game one he allowed six goals. Michigan pestered Jones by firing a barrage of shots from odd angles and especially from the slot. Michigan got on the scoreboard early scoring a goal in the first two periods and then four in the third period.
Jones didn't get any support from the defensive unit but Jones looked uncomfortable in his net. In-game two, Oskar Autio provided some support, not allowing a goal until the second period and making some nice saves to keep the game close. A good performance but not good enough to win as he saved 40 shots.
It looked as if Guy Gadowsky and his coaching staff were unprepared for the hot Michigan team riding into Pegula Ice Arena. It appeared that little changes were made between intermissions within the series. Changing the lines around for game two was intriguing since it gave a bit of a spark.
Going forward the defensive unit still needs to be addressed. Before the season started everyone knew the defensive unit was going to be the biggest question mark for this team. It was more evident in this series than any other to date.
Jordan Hession is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Junior / Broadcast Journalism Minoring in History