Michigan Hockey: Michigan at Penn State — Preview
Michigan Icers Enjoy Homecoming; Meet Nittany Lions For First Time Ever
What: #10 Michigan Wolverines (13-6-3) (5-2-1-1, 3rd) Vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (4-17-1) (0-8-0-0, 6th)
When: Friday 2/7 7:00 p.m. & Saturday 2/8, 5:00 p.m. Pegula Ice Arena, State College, Pa.
TV/Radio: No TV (Friday) ESPNU (Saturday) & The Michigan Hockey IMG Radio Network (1050 a.m. Al Randall, Bill Trainor) www.mgoblue.com for gametracker and streaming.
The Michigan hockey team finally returned home after a lengthy two month period and took full advantage of their surroundings in securing a 3-1 win over Wisconsin Friday before tying the Badgers 2-2 Saturday. Michigan earned the extra point with a 1-0 shootout win to complete a five point weekend and (temporarily) jump into 2nd place in the B1G Ten. (Wisconsin beat Minnesota Thursday night to leapfrog back into 2nd place.)
On Friday night, the Wolverines started sluggish and were on their heels against a rugged Badger forecheck. Michigan netminder Zach Nagelvoort held the door closed though and allowed the offense to finally get going. The Maize and Blue scored right after an expired power play on the hard work provided by the line of Tyler Motte, Zach Hyman and Luke Moffatt. They kept the play in the Badger end and, during a line change, cashed in. Moffatt and Hyman went off and Boo Nieves came on and kept the play along the boards. Nieves played give and go with Motte who got knocked down, but got up in time to receive a pass in the crease that he tapped in. Just over a minute later Wisconsin was forcing the issue and got stopped on two huge saves by Nagelvoort. The freshman knocked down a point blank shot in the slot, then pushed the rebound out which resulted in a counterattack by Michigan. J.T. Compher tapped the puck out of the zone to Alex Guptill who raced past a fallen Badger defender. Guptill went in alone and snapped a low hard shot stick side past Wisconsin goaltender Joel Rumpel.
Midway through the second period the Wolverines extended their lead to 3-0 on Zach Hyman’s 2nd goal of the season. Once again it was the work of Moffatt and Motte that kept the play alive. Moffatt fed defenseman Mac Bennett who took a shot that got knocked down in the crease. Hyman crashed the net and popped the puck over Rumpel. Wisconsin came back a minute later on a deflected point shot, but failed to threaten again until the end of the game when they pulled Rumpel for a sixth attacker. They rattled a shot off the crossbar in the dying seconds, but that was it. Rumpel stopped 31 of 34 shots, while Nagelvoort denied 26 of 27 shots. The Badgers failed on 2 PP chances while Michigan’s PP slump continued, being stopped on all five of their chances.
On Saturday, the Badgers played a much tighter defensive game and came out charging in the first period. Neither team lit the lamp, though. Michael Mersch did get Wisconsin on the board a minute into the 2nd period on a fancy between the legs feed to himself in the near slot, and then he turned and buried a low shot stickside on Nagelvoort. It was Mersch’s 15th goal of the season, four of which have come against Michigan. The line of Motte-Hyman-Moffatt struck again at the halfway point of the period, as Motte drilled in a rebound from a Michael Downing point shot to tie the score. Hyman assisted. Minutes later controversy erupted as defenseman/forward Andrew Sinelli raced in on Rumpel from the wing and crashed the net, bouncing a shot off of Rumpel and then off of Sinelli and into the net. The goal was counted on the ice, reviewed, then waived off for “contact to the goaltender” prior to the puck entering the net. Replays show Rumpel initiating the contact, but it was to no avail.
Soon after, Wisconsin’s Mark Zengerle broke in on Nagelvoort but was ridden to the ice from behind and was given a penalty shot. The senior sniper scored five hole to give the Badgers a 2-1 lead after forty minutes. Michigan tied the game at the 7:02 mark when… who else… the Moffatt-Hyman-Motte line joined up for Moffatt’s 8th goal of the season. He took a feed in the high slot from Hyman and rifled a low shot through a screen that beat Rumpel. Both teams exchanged good chances late and into overtime, especially Michigan. Andrew Copp had a golden chance to win the game standing all alone but was foiled in the near slot. Wisconsin thought they had won the game but had a goal waived off for having a man in the crease.
In the shootout, Michigan’s Luke Moffatt was the lone goalscorer. Wisconsin’s Zengerle was denied by Nagelvoort to end the shootout. Michigan was 0-6 on the PP, while Wisconsin was 0-1. Nagelvoort stopped 25 of 27 shots, outdueled by Rumpel’s 39 of 41 shots.
Beware of the trap series, Michigan fans. It is upon us. I am not proclaiming doom and gloom, but I am warning you… Michigan is entering into a dangerous place. It is not that the Nittany Lions are a good club- they are not. But they have hungry fans and work extremely hard. They are seeking their first B1G Ten conference victory after suffering (7) one goal losses this season with five of those at their sparkling new home. They have battled Hockey East powers UML and BC to 3-2 games and ECAC leader Union to two high scoring one goal losses. They gave Minnesota and Wisconsin everything they could handle, with the Badger loss at the Kohl Center. They also dropped a late road loss to MSU at Munn. Their four wins came against the weak sisters in college hockey, knocking off Robert Morris twice (one on the road and one on neutral ice) by one goal. They conquered Army and Sacred Heart at home and tied RIT. Overall, the talent pool is shallow, but the system and energy keeps them in games.
Don’t look at the fact that Penn State has lost eight straight games either, or has spent the last month on the road also. They will be ready to give Michigan a solid weekend and the Wolverines better be ready. The Lions are led on offense by sophomore Eric Scheid (10-5-15) who leads the team with four PPG’s. Defenseman Luke Juha is their triggerman on special teams compiling a 4-9-13 line with all four goals on the PP. Freshman David Goodwin (5-6-11) and junior Taylor Holstrom (4-5-9) round off the core of the PSU offense. The lone senior, Michael McDonagh is a non-impact player offensively, but invaluable as far as leadership. The goaltending duties are shared by a pair of budding stars: sophomore Matt Skoff (4-8-1, 3.44 GAA, .891 save %) and freshman Eamon McAdam (0-9-0, 3.95 GAA, .887 save %). These are two dynamite netminders that has had little help in front of them this season.
The overall M.O. on the Lions is, offensively they shoot, shoot, shoot hoping for rebounds and bad angle deflections. On defense they pack it in and frustrate their opponents into impatience. They are 53rd in offense (2.18 GPG) and 55th in defense (3.91 GPG), so they have a shortage of experienced talent in only their second full varsity season. They are efficient on the PP, cashing on 18.52% of their chances (30th) which are the only statistic they compare favorably against Michigan. Their PK is converting at 79.4%, which will give hope to a Michigan PP that has been stuffed in their last 11 attempts. They are also taking an average of 14 MPG in penalties, ranked 18th worst in the country.
Michigan on the other hand, has slipped to 29th in offense (2.82), yet ranks 7th in defense at 2.23 GPG. The Wolverines may feel comfortable in a 2-1, 3-2 game with the Lions. The PP is a dismal 17.24% now (39th) while the PK is 32nd at 81.4% kill rate. The Wolverines are averaging just less than 11 MPG in penalties, 15th best in the country.
Michigan netminder Zach Nagelvoort (9-5-2, 1.92 GAA, .936 save %) moved up to #6 in goals against average and T#3 in the country in save %. He was the difference in last week’s series with Wisconsin.
Compher leads the Wolverines with 21 points and added an assist last weekend. Similarly, Andrew Copp follows with 18 points and was invisible for the most part last weekend. Luke Moffatt (8-8-16) offered a goal and an assist, plus the shootout winner Saturday. Alex Guptill (7-8-15) had the GWG on Friday. Tyler Motte added his 7th goal of the year on Saturday and is 7-4-11.
Coach Red Berenson can break a 4th place tie with Rick Comley for career wins this weekend. He seeks win #784 next.
Michigan moved up to the #10 spot after the Wisconsin series. Minnesota kept the #1 spot after tying and beating the Spartans at home. The Badgers moved down to #12 after their series with Michigan, but, as mentioned, they earned an upset win at home over Minnesota on Thursday night, which knocked the Gophers out of the #1 overall seed in the PWR rating. The Wolverines moved up for a tie in for 8th in the PWR and Wisconsin is up to #12. Ohio State soundly swept Penn State at home last weekend. Neither they nor the Spartans are in the top 16 teams considered for the NCAA tourney and would have to qualify as an at-large by winning the B1G Ten Hockey Tournament in March.
Lohan’s status unchanged: Freshman defender Kevin Lohan was in street clothes last weekend and did not dress. His timing is up to the coaches and doctors now. Defender Mike Chiasson hasn’t played since the OSU series in December and freshman blueliner Spencer Hyman has yet to dress for his first NCAA game.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — YostMeister
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