Coming off what Guy Gadowsky called the team’s best performance of the season, Penn State entered Saturday’s matchup with Michigan with an opportunity to secure its first weekend sweep of the season.
Instead, a quick strike offense and dominant penalty kill led the Wolverines to a 5-2 win over the No. 15 Nittany Lions, giving Gadowsky’s squad its fourth weekend split of the season.
The Wolverines got on the scoreboard first for the second straight game. After gathering the puck in the offensive zone, Tony Calderone fired a quick wrist shot that was shut down by Peyton Jones. The rebound bounced right back to Calderone, who buried the puck under Jones’ pad.
A few minutes later, the Nittany Lions had an opportunity to respond after Will Lockwood was handed a five-minute major for boarding Cole Hults. The Lions failed to establish much pressure during the extended man advantage, totalling just four shots on the power play.
Wolverines coach Mel Pearson noted that the penalty kill provided his team a spark early in the contest.
“With their power play, that can totally change the game,” he said. “You can get behind by a couple and the crowd gets into it. That was one of the keys to the game.”
The Wolverines maintained their one-goal lead through the remainder of the opening frame and much of the second period. Late in the middle frame, the Wolverines extended their lead with a pair of goals just nine seconds apart.
Calderone scored his second goal of the game with a laser of a wrist shot to the top corner, followed up quickly by Brendan Warren’s second goal of the season off an offensive zone faceoff.
The Lions struck back near the end of the period as Nate Sucese redirected a point shot by Trevor Hamilton past Hayden Lavigne with 1:08 to play.
The Wolverines used their quick-strike offense to pull away early in the third. Just over four minutes into the final period, Dexter Dancs netted his third goal of the weekend. Just 1:14 later, Nick Pastujov made it 5-1 after Jones could not seal the post on Pastujov’s wraparound.
The Lions responded a few minutes later as Nikita Pavlychev knocked home the rebound of a James Robinson shot.
Gadowsky upped the pressure during the final ten minutes of play, pulling goalie Chris Funkey for an extra attacker with over eight minutes to play, then again with just over three minutes remaining. The Wolverines staved off the attack, however, led by a 42-save performance by Lavigne.