The Lions beat the leading team in the Big Ten to stay in the hunt for a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament. With a stifling offensive attack early on, the home team was able to overwhelm the visiting Wolverines. Guy Gadowsky's team stepped up to fill the void left by injured senior-leader Taylor Holstrom.
With the victory Penn State moves to 17-12-4, clinching the first winning season in program history since joining division one. With one more win in the final three conference games it would clinch the first winning conference record in program history.
The game began with a furious pace and a lot of hitting. Early on, PSU's Kenny Brooks nearly scored the first goal but Michigan goalie Steve Racine made an amazing glove save and then acted like it was no big deal. The teams clearly brought a playoff-level of intensity to this game. Brooks was injured shortly after the scoring attempt and had trouble getting back to the bench. On his next shift he came on to the ice and then quickly returned to the bench, unable to play. At the next whistle Brooks left for the locker room. Already down a star forward in Taylor Holstrom, the Lions could not afford another injury.
A couple of minutes later, Eric Scheid scored first for the home team on a great individual effort. Scheid skated the puck across mid-ice and then tossed it in for himself on a one man give-and-go. He ended up with the puck against the boards behind the net and was able to skate in front of Racine. Taken off-guard, Racine was unable to stop the short-side shot from less than ten feet away.
Four minutes later Penn State scored again, this time on a goal by David Goodwin. On a long cross-ice pass from Tommy Olczyk, the sophomore center put the puck in the net for a two goal PSU lead. Olczyk, who was replacing the team's injured assist leader Taylor Holstrom on the top line, got his first assist of the season on the play.
Three minutes later, Casey Bailey scored a power play goal from the left point on a blast that was in the net before Racine heard the thud of the shot.
From this juncture in the game the hitting became severe. At one point PSU defensmen Connor Varley sent Dylan Larkin, the freshmen star for the Wolverines, to the ice. It was a clean hit but his teammates did not appreciate it and stood in for the young player. There was a skirmish involving several players that was broken up by the officials.
There wasn't any more scoring in the period but the hitting escalated. There were countless pushing matches after the whistle. Penn State was called for two penalties but Michigan was unable to capitalize.
The period began as the first had left off, with a fast pace and a great deal of clean hitting. Two minutes in, Michigan's Kevin Lohan took a penalty for interference. With time running out in the penalty, Penn State took advantage of the extra skater when Scott Conway scored on an assist from fellow freshmen Erik Autio. Pegula Ice Arena exploded with enthusiasm as the home team enjoyed a four-goal lead.
Play got very contentious and the penalties began to play a role in the game. Casey Bailey was called for a face-off violation and was not happy to serve the penalty. A minute later Connor Varley and Dylan Larkin got into a fight after the whistle. The pair was sent to the penalty box. The issue between the two skaters stemmed from the hard hit that Varley had applied to Larkin in the early-going of the game. It was a clean hit, but the play set the tone for the game.
Two minutes later Michigan showed signs of life on a goal by Andrew Copp as the Wolverines skated with a 5 on 4 advantage. With 32 minutes left in the contest the highest-scoring team in the nation was far from out of the game, down 4-1.
With four minutes left in the period Michigan scored again, this time on a goal by Justin Selman. While the game was still a two-goal advantage for the home team, the mood changed inside Pegula Ice Arena. For the next couple of minutes Penn State lost the groove that it had been playing with and it seemed like Michigan may turn the table in terms of overall momentum.
Instead, with 31.1 seconds left in the period, the Lions extended the lead to 5-2. Dylan Richard scored on an assist from Eric Scheid. The goal gave momentum back to the home team as the period came to a close.
Dylan Larkin scored less than one minute into the period to cut the lead to 5-3. The Lions were once again leading by two goals but on the retreat. A two-goal lead at this point was certainly not a wide enough cushion. Michigan forced the issue in the early going, but was unable to add another goal in the early-going.
The Wolverines owned the first four minutes of the period until Penn State went on the power play after Dexter Dancs was called for a slashing penalty.
With exactly fifteen minutes remaining in the period, Nate Jensen extended the lead for Guy Gadowsky's squad. David Glen threw the puck in front of Racine and Jensen re-directed it to the back of the net. Goalie Eamon McAdam got an assist on the play along with Glen. It was the first time that a Penn State goalie has recorded an assist in division one competition (Ed note- For you football fans out there, goalie assists are equally as awesome as tackles by kickers. -NP).
After the goal, Zach Saar was called for a roughing penalty. The teams would spend the next fourteen minutes smashing one another into the boards and scuffling after the whistle.
With 13 seconds left, Cutler Martin scored for Michigan in what would be the final goal of the game. The game ended but the competition did not. After the final whistle there were four penalties called. Andrew Copp and JT Compher of Michigan, and Patrick Koudys and Eamon McAdam of Penn State were called for roughing penalties after the game ended. The penalties will not impact the second game of the series, but there will certainly be scores to settle tomorrow.
This was the most physical game of the year and with so much riding on the line tomorrow, it is likely that there will be even more fireworks in game two.
Stars of the Game
★ Nate Jensen- One goal and one assist
★★ Eric Scheid- One goal, two assists
★★★ Dylan Richard- One goal, one assist
- The comment section of this article will be used as the open-thread discussion during the game this afternoon at 3 p.m.
- Michigan out-shot PSU 45-43.
- Seven seniors will be honored prior to the start of the game, so get there early if you are planning to attend.
- The Big Ten Standings after last night's games.