|Dylan Richard/Denis Smirnov
|David Goodwin/Kevin Kerr
|Denis Smirnov/Dylan Richard
|Dexter Dancs/Adam Winborg
|Denis Smirnov/Vince Pedrie
|Shots On Goal
Penn State’s nemesis last season donned the maize and blue of Michigan. The Wolverines routinely outskated and outscored the Nittany Lions, winning all five matchups in 2015-16 between the two teams by a combined score of 33-11.
If the first meeting between the two squads this season is any indication, this season may feature a reversal of roles.
This time, it was the Lions who won the foot races to pucks as they blew out the Wolverines 6-1. The victory extended the Lions’ winning streak to 10 games and their unbeaten streak to 12. Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky doesn’t want to get too far ahead of himself, however.
“It is just one night,” he said following the game. “The game just sort of went our way.”
Andrew Sturtz opened the scoring for the Nittany Lions in less-than-typical Andrew Sturtz fashion. While the sophomore forward is quickly becoming a highlight-reel machine, dancing the puck past defenders or circling the offensive zone before rifling a wrist shot, his opening goal came as the result of a dogged effort in front of the net.
With the puck loose in front of Zach Nagelvoort, Sturtz, along with Dylan Richard and Denis Smirnov, hammered away at it, eventually forcing it under Nagelvoort’s pad and into the goal.
Early in the middle frame, the Lions doubled their lead thanks to Liam Folkes. The freshman forward gathered a loose puck to the left of Nagelvoort. Folkes dragged the puck across the front of the crease, outwaiting Nagelvoort before roofing a backhand shot past the senior netminder.
The teams swapped blows all night as the hitting was as strong as it has been this season. Penn State freshman center Nikita Pavlychev was dropped to the ice at the beginning of this clip. He then got up and laid a nasty hit a few seconds later. As this was all unfolding, Trevor Hamilton was sizing up one of the hardest legal hits of the season.
Ten minutes later, Trevor Hamilton extended the Lions lead, firing a laser from the point that drifted over Nagelvoort’s blocker. The goal was only Hamilton’s second of the season, but it also extended his lead in points among Big Ten defensemen, giving him 14 on the season. Take a look at the great work the team displayed on the power play. The feed from captain David Goodwin made the finish possible.
Late in the period, the Lions’ fourth line picked up the fourth goal of the game. After Zach Saar grabbed the puck in the corner, he sent a rocket of a pass to Ricky DeRosa, who one timed a shot past Nagelvoort.
Despite a sizable lead, Gadowsky felt that fourth goal was the most important of the night for the Lions.
“If they get that one I think things went very differently,” he said.
Midway through the third period, Sturtz picked up his second goal of the game in a more highlight reel fashion. After Smirnov fired a shot right off a faceoff, Sturtz picked up the rebound and slid the puck between Jack LaFontaine’s skate and the right post. The goal was Sturtz’s 12th goal in his 12th game of the season.
Tony Calderone stopped the bleeding for the Wolverines just 30 seconds later, however. With a scramble in front of the Lions net and Peyton Jones trying to regain his positioning, Calderone knocked home a rebound to put the Wolverines on the board.
Erik Autio capped off the scoring with four minutes remaining. While on the power play, Smirnov sent a cross-ice pass to the junior defenseman. Autio shanked a shot on goal, but the puck fluttered over a sprawling LaFontaine.
With few negatives to take from a five-goal victory, DeRosa found room for improvement in the Lions ability to close out the game.
“I think top to bottom we played a pretty good game,” he said. “I think there was a little lapse in the third [period] that I think we should have definitely put them away.”
The two teams face off again Friday night at 7 p.m.