|Shots on Goal||1st||2nd||3rd||Final|
No. 14 Penn State (20-12-4) fell to the No. 9 Wolverines in the final regular-season game of the year. Up next for the Lions will be a quarterfinal matchup in the Big Ten tournament with Wisconsin on Thursday.
The final score of the game does not accurately portray the level of competitiveness that was seen on the ice. Michigan is one of the best teams in the country, was playing at home on senior night with a chance to win the Big Ten regular-season title. The Lions were playing with two fewer skaters than Michigan due to injuries. To fill out the needed six active defensemen, Kenny Brooks was moved from forward to defense. To say that Penn State faced adversity is an understatement.
Michigan got the scoring started when Kyle Connor, the nation's leading goal-scorer and potential Hobey Baker Award-winner, got loose on an odd-man break. Eric Scheid quickly tied the score at one apiece with a seeing-eye shot from the blue line.
From that point it was all Michigan, scoring the final five goals as Penn State struggled to keep up. To the credit of the visiting Lions it did not stop competing. Coach Gadowsky used his timeout, stalled for time for his undermanned team to rest by contesting calls that would not normally warrant a discussion, and pulled out all the stops in an effort to keep the game within reach.
The Wolverines outshot Penn State 57-31 but fell one point short of first place in the Big Ten standings with Minnesota clinching the title for the third straight season.
Five minutes into the game the Kyle Connor beat Eamon McAdam with a smooth wrist shot. Connor and JT Compher had a 2-on-1 break with only Kenny Brooks back for the Lions. Brooks was moved to defense for this game and was immediately put in a tough situation. He played the pass, taking Compher out of the play, but Connor was able to score with relative ease when left alone with Eamon McAdam.
Two minutes later Eric Scheid answered with a goal from just inside the blue line. On the play, Scheid tossed a soft shot on net and Curtis Loik skated in front of goalie Steve Racine, screening his view of the puck. Loik and Chase Berger assisted on the play. The shot was heading over the goal but deflected past Racine when it went off a defender's stick. It was the second time in two games that the only goal for the Lions was scored on a fluke deflection.
The teams skated furiously for the next ten minutes without a score. Max Shaurt added a second goal for the Wolverines with three minutes remaining in the first period. On the play, the puck took a weird bounce from behind the PSU net straight to Shaurt, who took the puck across the crease before McAdam could react to the change of direction.
In the closing minutes of the opening period Erik Autio was called for a penalty and Penn State went on the penalty kill. It didn't take long for Michigan to make it hurt. Boo Nieves scored on the rebound of a Justin Selman shot to stretch the lead to 3-1.
After making several amazing saves to hold the deficit to two goals, Penn State's Eamon McAdam gave up a fourth goal on a power play early in the second period. Connor scored for the second time on the night, marking his 30th goal of the season.
Shortly after the play, Ricky DeRosa was called for a five-minute boarding penalty. It was a tough call for the Lions, as the referee did not have a clear view of the call and on review the hit was legal. The call effectively ended any chance for Penn State to make a comeback. On a 5-minute penalty, if the advantaged team scores a goal, the disadvantaged team does not get the player back until the penalty has expired.
Shortly into the five-minute penalty Michigan scored to stretch the lead to 5-1. While the goal was being scored, the Lions were called for an additional penalty. After giving up the 5th goal, Penn State was on a 5-on-3 penalty kill. It was not an enviable position. Matt Skoff entered the game for McAdam, who gave up 5 goals in consecutive games. McAdam has been pulled in three of the four games he has played since being named the starting goalie.
To Penn State's credit it only allowed one more goal in the final 33 minutes of the game and the final score was 6-1.
For the final few minutes of the game, with each team knowing the outcome was decided, the teams skated back and forth as though it was a practice. Neither team checked, attempted to steal the puck, or put a shot on goal. It was a strange scene but very appropriate since Penn State could not afford another injury and there was no reason for the teams to take any risks. It was an admirable display of sportsmanship, the teams each acknowledged the situation and showed respect for the game and each other. It was similar to the end of a basketball game when a team has the ball for the final seconds and runs out the clock, only it went on for nearly four minutes.
Stars of the Game
Kyle Connor, Michigan. 2 goals.
Steve Racine, Michigan. 21 saves and a win.
Boo Nieves, Michigan. 2 goals.