|Shots on Goal||1st||2nd||3rd||Final|
On Friday evening, Penn State (21-13-4) lost in the second round of the Big Ten tournament to end the 2015-16 season. The team ran into a tough Michigan squad, which happens to feature all three finalists for the Hobey Baker award, the first time one single team has accomplished such a feat.
One of the finalists, freshman Kyle Connor, added to his nation-leading goal scoring total with 4 goals on the day. Another finalist, JT Compher, recorded 5 assists. It was hard for Penn State to overcome this immense wave of talent on one line.
After scoring two goals late in the first period to take hold of the game's momentum, the Wolverines added a third goal very early in the second period. While Penn State fought with everything it had left in the tank, the game was never in doubt for the final 38 minutes.
The loss ends a great season for the Nittany Lions. Many individual and team records were set, including a program-high 21 wins. The future is bright as well, with the highest-regarded recruiting class to join the team in the fall.
The teams skated fast and evenly for the first ten minutes of the game. There were a few scoring chances but none found the back of the net. Eamon McAdam made a nice diving save with his stick to keep Michigan off the board early.
0-0 (14:43, 1st) Eamon McAdam sprawls to make an amazing save to keep Michgian off the board.— Penn State Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) March 18, 2016
Watch --> https://t.co/ANgkaXHXQm
With just under ten minutes remaining in the first period, the Wolverines got on the board first when Max Shuart put a rebound in the net past McAdam. On the play, Shuart was denied twice before his third swipe at the puck found paydirt.
Following the goal, Penn State fought back with every ounce of energy it could muster. For five minutes, momentum favored the Lions, but it did not translate into points. With under five minutes to play in the period, Michigan went on a power-play. It didn't take long for it to pay off. On the first shift with a man advantage, Alex Kile took a smooth pass from Tyler Motte and put it in the net.
Once again the Lions turned up the heat following the Michigan goal. It worked out, as the team went on a power-play after it forced the Wolverines to interfere with a breakaway chance. While Penn State was not able to score with the advantage, the penalty halted any further scoring chances for the remainder of the period.
Early in the second period the nation's leading goal scorer, Kyle Connor, scored on a great individual effort to bring the lead to 3-0 in favor of the Wolverines. Connor poked the puck into the offensive zone, recovered it, and put a hard wrist-shot past McAdam before he and his teammates could react.
In the minutes following, the Lions took two penalties. The team was able to kill off the first penalty but on the second penalty Kyle Connor scored again. Trailing 4-0 midway through the game, Guy Gadowsky pulled McAdam in favor of Matt Skoff.
The change in goal didn't help very much. Moments later Connor scored for the third straight time, a natural hat-trick, to take the lead to 5-0 in favor of Michigan.
Penn State finally stopped the bleeding when Kevin Kerr stepped up from the blue line and put the biscuit in the basket to cut the lead to 5-1.
Toward the end of the second period the teams got very chippy. There were multiple penalties handed out but a major penalty was dealt to Michael Downing. Downing hit David Glen from behind on a very dangerous play that resulted in a 5-minute major penalty, ejection and one-game suspension. As a result, Downing will have to miss the Big Ten championship game on Saturday.
With 45 seconds off the clock in the final period, Michigan's Boo Nieves scored on a deflection to bring the lead back to five goals at 6-1. This would have been a good chance for a team to hunch its shoulders and give in. Instead, the Lions dug deep and answered with a quick goal by Luke Juha. On the play, Kevin Kerr and David Goodwin were credited with assists for their great passes.
For the next ten minutes the action was fast end to end but the score remained 6-2. With nine minutes left in the game Zach Saar was given a game-misconduct for a cross check. The penalty gave Michigan a power play for five minutes. Nine seconds into the penalty, Kyle Connor scored for the fourth time on the day to end all hopes of a Penn State comeback.
For the final few minutes of the game, with the win in hand for the Wolverines, longtime coach Red Berenson backed his team off from scoring additional goals. It was a gesture that the Lions unfortunately experienced in the final two games it played with Michigan. It was a very classy move by Berenson. His respect for the game and his opponent is a credit to his hockey program and the University of Michigan. The Wolverines will take on the winner of the Ohio State-Minnesota game in the Big Ten championship game.
Stars of the Game
Kyle Connor, Michigan. 4 goals scored.
JT Compher, Michigan. 5 assists.
David Goodwin, Penn State. 2 assists.