The past couple weeks have demonstrated both ends of the spectrum of Penn State’s mental toughness.
Coach Guy Gadowsky hoped his team would replicate its performance against North Dakota, rather than the let downs against Ohio State.
What he got Thursday night was best summed up in one word — fragile.
“I thought we played really well the first half of the game, but the fragileness comes from what we gave up after. It’s a 60-minute game,” Gadowsky said. “I don’t think it’s good enough.”
Goals By Period
From an outside perspective, the game didn’t seem as lopsided as Michigan’s 5-1 win might suggest. The Nittany Lions outshot the Wolverines in each period, ending up with a 34-24 advantage by the final horn.
The Wolverines had the edge on special teams, going 2-for-4 on the power play and killing all three Nittany Lions man advantages.
What was the most apparent mismatch was goaltending.
Erik Portillo was lights out for the Wolverines in stopping 33 shots, including some worthy of the highlight reel. At the other end of the ice, Oskar Autio had his moments, but 19 saves on 24 shots isn’t the kind of performance Penn State needed to have a chance against the No. 3 team in the nation.
How It Happened
Late in a largely uneventful first period, Luke Morgan broke the ice for the Wolverines. After the Nittany Lions gave the puck away behind their own net, Dylan Duke found Morgan in the slot. Morgan snuck a one timer through Oskar Autio.
Early in the second period, Matty Beniers doubled the Wolverines lead as he hammered home a one timer on the power play.
Later in the middle frame, Ben Copeland opened the scoring for the Nittany Lions as they drew back within a goal. After a great individual effort by Xander Lamppa was denied by Erik Portillo, Copeland followed up and guided the puck in off his skate.
The Wolverines responded quickly, however, as Johnny Beecher blasted home a one timer from a sharp angle.
Midway through the third period, the Wolverines effectively put the game out of reach, as Garrett Van Wyhe picked the low corner on Autio’s glove side.
Late in the third, Beniers netted his second power play goal of the game. Collecting a pass in the left circle, Beniers picked the top corner over Autio’s blocker.