Penn State Slips to No. 15 after Splitting Series against Michigan

Penn State Slips to No. 15 after Splitting Series against Michigan

This past weekend was one to remember as the No. 15 Nittany Lions (4-4-0, 2-2-0) defeated Michigan on Friday in one of the most thrilling games yet this season in college hockey.

Penn State took on rival Michigan at Pegula Ice Arena this past Friday and Saturday for what ended up as a split series – the Lions dominating on Friday, and Michigan claiming victory on Saturday.

On Friday, in front of a crowd of 6,096, Penn State bested the Wolverines in a 5-4 overtime showdown.

Michigan came out fighting, scoring two goals in the first six minutes of the first period to give them a 2-0 lead.

Ten minutes later, Andrew Sturtz (Buffalo, N.Y.) got the movement going as he scored Penn State’s first goal of the evening to bring the Lions within one point of tying as the first period ended.

Sophomore Denis Smirnov (Moscow, Russia) was set up for a hammer of a goal by teammate Nate Sucese (Fairport, N.Y.) for the 2-2 tie.

The Wolverines would not go without a fight, and minutes later, Michigan used a powerplay to its advantage and logged their third goal of the night just before the intermission.

The two teams knew it was do-or-die in the third period, and everyone refused to go down without a fight.

Michigan picked up a goal six minutes into the period, and it seemed like they might just hang on with a 4-3 lead as the clock dwindled down.

Luckily, Chase Berger (St. Louis, Mo.) found a rebound from a shot by Sturtz and Berger sank his shot in the net with just over a minute to go in regulation time.


Overtime did not last long as senior James Robinson (Cochrane, Alberta) attempted a wraparound shot that rebounded off of Michigan’s goalie, but was then sunk into the net by Blake Gober (Colleyville, Tx.) for the golden goal 5-4 win over the powerful Wolverines.

Goalie Peyton Jones (Langhorne, Pa.) played the entire game and logged 31 saves on 35 shots while Michigan’s goalie logged 49 saves on 54 shots.

The team barely had enough time to celebrate this major victory due to the fact that the second game of the series was the very next night.

In front of another crowd of over 6,000 attendees, the two Big Ten teams duked it out on Saturday night with an evening puck drop.

Unfortunately for the Lions, Michigan had it all figured out by the time Saturday evening rolled around, and opened gameplay with the lone goal of the first period, and two goals within 20 seconds in the late minutes of the second period.

Sophomore Nate Sucese (Fairport, N.Y.) tipped in a shot by Trevor Hamilton (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.) with about a minute to go in the second period, cutting the deficit from 3-0 to 3-1 heading into intermission.

Michigan once again came out strong, and scored two more consecutive goals within two minutes of each other at the opening of the third period.

Staying strong as always, Penn State rallied to get one more point on the board before the final buzzer. Nikita Pavlychev (Yaroslavl, Russia) used a Robinson rebound to secure a goal for the Lions, but it was slightly too late as the Lions suffered a 5-2 split series loss to the Wolverines.

Goaltender Jones made 20 saves on 25 shots for the Lions while Chris Funkey (Orland Park, Ill.) made five saves on five shots for the Lions. Penn State recorded 44 shots on Michigan.

Despite the tough loss, Penn State is still ranked in the top 20 and will prepare to host unranked Mercyhurst this coming weekend on both Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. at Pegula Ice Arena. We hope to see you there!