Guy Gadowsky's team overcame the adversity caused by the loss of Hobey-Baker award candidate Taylor Holstrom, winning two games against Michigan. The Wolverines came into the series in a position to grab an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. The team likely will need to win the Big Ten tournament or hope for a sweep next weekend against Michigan State to play past the conference championship.
Penn State now has several scenarios that could play out for the team to enjoy a bye in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. Depending on the outcome of the Michigan State versus Wisconsin game, the team could control its outcome with a series sweep on the road against Minnesota next weekend.
For now it is nice to enjoy a series sweep against Michigan. Last year Penn State knocked the Wolverines out of NCAA tournament contention when it beat the team in double-overtime in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. This sweep puts Michigan on the hot seat, as the team faces a very tough Spartan team next weekend that has Big Ten tournament first-round bye aspirations of their own.
The game started right where the teams left off the night before, with some chippy play after the whistle. Overall, seven penalties were called on the teams and play was dominated by the physical nature the players employed. On two occasions matching penalties were handed out for rough play after the whistle. For the most part, whenever there was not a penalty called after a whistle the refs were still busy keeping the teams from fighting.
David Goodwin started the scoring for Penn State with the fifteenth goal of the season on the assist by Patrick Koudys and Casey Bailey.
Play would continue for over ten minutes without either team scoring. Andrew Copp had a few great chances to score for Michigan. Scott Conway was unable to finish the play on a great pass from Eric Scheid. While there wasn't any scoring in this stretch there were plenty of penalties and hitting. This was the most physical first period of the year for the Lions. It was apparent that the teams were looking to mix it up in the early going.
JT Compher then ended the scoreless streak with a goal. Less than a minute after the tying goal, Penn State answered on a goal of its own by Scott Conway, assisted by David Goodwin and Eric Scheid. With the students on spring break this week, the crowd consisted on mainly local fans. The arena was still as loud as ever when the home team regained the lead.
The momentum lasted for a few minutes until Compher scored for the second time on a short-handed goal. There period ended 2-2. Just as the period ended Penn State had a couple of decent scoring chances.
The second period began with the teams skating a little slower than in the first game of the series and first period of this game. It is understandable that the players momentarily lost the drive seen in the first four periods of the series.
Two minutes into the period David Glen got taken to the ice on a rough play but no penalty was called. Angered by the no-call, Glen went directly at the nearest Michigan player and was called for a cross-checking penalty. Patrick Koudys was called for a hooking penalty before the Glen penalty expired and Michigan skated with a 5-on-3 advantage for a little under a minute. The Lions were able to kill both of the penalties and that turned momentum from the Wolverine's favor back to the home team.
Zach Hyman was called for a tripping penalty a few minutes later. Penn State was not able to score on the power play but three seconds after the penalty expired Erik Autio scored a goal on an assist from two Davids, Glen and Goodwin.
A minute later Ricky DeRosa was called for hooking. PSU was able to kill the penalty.
With just over two minutes remaining in the period, Tommy Olczyk scored on an assist from linemates David Goodwin and Casey Bailey.
Just as the period expired Michigan had two quick scoring opportunities. The period ended on an offensive flurry as the first period had as well.
The period began with the teams skating with a little bit of ambivalence. Michigan did not play with the amount of urgency that you would expect with a team trailing by two with one period remaining in the game. The Lions similarly seemed to have lost the drive that got the two goal lead and were skating without purpose for the first few minutes.
With each tick off the clock Penn State moved closer to a series sweep, but it seemed inevitable that the #16 team in the country would mount a comeback attempt. Neither team took an advantage until with 12 minutes left in the game, Dylan Larkin of Michigan was sent to the penalty box for a ten-minute unsportsmanlike misconduct penalty. No extra skater was awarded to the Lions for the penalty but the Wolverines would be without one of the best players in the country for ten of the final twelve minutes. It appeared that Larkin said something to the officials that drew the penalty. It was likely that he spoke out of frustration and crossed the line.
The penalty on Larkin was the only penalty call of the period. The teams skated evenly until Michigan coach Red Berenson pulled goalie Steve Racine with 3:39 minutes left in the game after calling a time out to discuss the strategy with his team.
Michigan was able to mount an impressive attack with the 6-on-5 skater advantage. The team finally broke through, cutting the lead to one when Compher scored for the third time, collecting a hat-trick. The goal came with 1:36 left in the game and that is plenty of time for the nation's leading scoring team to get a goal with an extra skater.
As the previous two periods had, this one ended with a massive scoring attempt flurry. With 6.4 seconds left the play was whistled dead and just after the whistle the puck was wrestled loose of Penn State goalie PJ Musico. The puck slid into the net behind the senior goal-tender but the referee was waving it off before it crossed the goal line. The ruling was that the save was made prior to the puck being knocked loose. After a very quick review, lasting fewer than 30 seconds in real-time but seeming like years to Penn State faithful fans, the call stood as called, no goal.
Penn State won the ensuing face-off in its offensive zone and with that clinched the 4-3 win and a series sweep.
*David Goodwin- 1 goal, 3 assists (playmaker)
**JT Compher- 3 goals (hat-trick)
***Patrick Koudys- 1 assist and great defensive play.
- The Lions will finish the regular season on the road against the Minnesota Golden Gophers next Friday and Saturday night.
- The Lions have clinched a winning record in conference play for the first time in program history.
- PJ Musico got the win in net. Penn State has three goalies with five or more wins on the season, a rare feat.