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Penn State Hockey Preview: Michigan

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Penn State invades Ann Arbor for a pair of games over the weekend.

Where: Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Time: 7:30 ET

Television: Fox Sports Detroit Plus

Streaming online: BTN2GO This is a free service for anyone who subscribes to the Big Ten Network via television.

The B1G hockey season begins tonight for Penn State. The Wolverines are certainly looking forward to atoning for three losses to the Lions last season. Penn State beat Michigan last season for the first B1G win in team history, once again for the first road B1G victory, and finally once more for the first B1G tournament victory. The three losses kept Michigan out of the NCAA tournament for the second straight year. The Maize and Blue previously had made an NCAA hockey record, twenty-two year run of tourney births from 1991-2012.

The Michigan faithful are a bit uneasy at this point. Mgoblog is a great Michigan blog to follow, and last season the comment section provided a healthy dose of Michigan fan meltdowns following each loss to Penn State. The game tonight could be a turning point for both hockey programs. Penn State looks to gain status among top college programs and the Wolverines look to regain their place among the elite.

Entering the first game, Penn State is the higher-ranked team, both in the USCHO rankings and also the more important, PairWise rankings.

Scouting Michigan

Coach: Red Berenson 30th year, 749-350-77

Who's gone: Mac Bennett, Derek DuBlois, Alex Guptill, Phil Di Guiseppe

Who steps up: JT Comphor, Crisoval Nieves, Andrew Copp, Mike Chaisson, Nolan De Jong, Zach Hyman.

Record: 4-5-0

The Wolverines have not lost many players from last season, but did lose Bennett and DuBlois, their captain and assistant captain respectively. Goalies Nagelvoort and Racine return after having played inconsistently last season. The Wolverines use a platoon system for their goalies, with Edmonton draft pick Nagelvoort getting most of the ice time.

Senior forward and Florida Panther draft pick Zach Hyman has led Michigan in scoring this season with four goals and six assists. Freshman Dylan Larkin, a Detroit Red Wing draft pick, has filled a scoring void, adding eight points on two goals and six assists. The freshman has also contributed five penalties in the early-going of the season and will have to work on cutting that down.

The Wolverines have one solid win against #18 UMass-Lowell, while the other wins have come against #57 American International (2) and #39 New Hampshire. The Wolverines were recently out-worked by undefeated Michigan Tech, losing 4-1 and 6-2. Michigan lost 3-2 on the road against #5 Boston University in a game where BU scored two third period goals for the comeback win.

Notes:

  • Follow along during the game in the comment section of this post, we will be hosting our open thread.
  • The game tonight is PSU's first chance, with a win, to enter the top 16 PairWise rankings. This would place the team tentatively in a spot for the NCAA playoffs, were the season to end four months early.