Built in 1923, Yost Ice Arena has been home to Michigan ice hockey since 1973. With 602 wins in front of the home crowd since, the home of the Wolverines has become one of the most difficult to play in for opposing teams.
Perhaps no team knows that better than Penn State.
The Nittany Lions are winless in their last eight games at Yost and have just two wins in 11 tries at Michigan. The only current Nittany Lion to experience a win on Michigan ice is defenseman Clayton Phillips, who did so early last season as a member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
The problem certainly isn’t the Wolverines — Penn State is 10-6 against Michigan anywhere other than Yost. Coach Guy Gadowsky isn’t quite sure what it is about Yost that has made it Penn State’s kryptonite.
“The coaches, we discuss it. We haven’t come up with anything definitive,” Gadowsky said. “We’ve played well and lost and we’ve played very poorly and lost. We’ve done it both ways.”
When the streak began, the Wolverines were simply the better team, or at least had the more dominant top line. In five meetings during the 2015-16 season, Penn State was outscored 33-11 as the CCM Line tore apart the Big Ten.
As the talent gap has narrowed — and even flipped in Penn State’s favor — Yost has still terrorized the Nittany Lions. In the five contests at Yost since the CCM Line disbanded, Penn State has been outscored 19-5.
If ever there was a season where the Nittany Lions could seemingly break the streak, it appears to be this one. The Wolverines are 5-9-2 this season and have just one win in conference play. That lone victory came in their most recent outing, however, a 3-1 win over Wisconsin. Gadowsky is wary about facing a team coming off such an important victory.
“They’re feeling pretty good about themselves,” he said. “I think they’re doing everything they can to make sure they get back in the race here and back in the NCAA hunt. I think they’re a very dangerous team.”
“More at the top of our minds right now when it comes to this weekend is that we haven’t had success at Yost in five years. That’s the number one concern. I think for us, we really have to look at ourselves in terms of what we have to do to have success at Yost regardless of where they’re at in their season.”
Scouting The Wolverines
The root of Michigan’s problems is that the Wolverines have trouble putting the puck in the net, a result of losing three of their top six scorers from last season. Averaging barely more than two goals per game, Johnny Beecher leads the team with eight points. His four goals tie him for the team lead with Will Lockwood and Jack Becker.
The Wolverines have been much more successful keeping the puck out of the net, due in large part to the performance of Strauss Mann. The sophomore netminder has started 15 of 16 games, posting the third-best save percentage in the conference.