No. 13 Penn State Hockey just completed one of the most impressive weekends in program history.
The Nittany Lions will undoubtedly surge up the national rankings, after beating No. 1 ranked Michigan Saturday, and losing in overtime Saturday, picking up the first victory since the program began against a nationally top-ranked opponent.
Here are key takeaways from a dominant showing from Penn State Hockey:
Friday Night Breakdown
The No.13th ranked Nittany Lions shut down No. 1 ranked Michigan, 3-0.
Pegula ice arena was absolutely packed for the biggest game of the season, attendance hit 6,455, making it the second-largest crowd in arena history.
The first goal of the weekend was scored by Ture Linden at 7:18 of the middle frame. It was a beautiful net front feed from Jimmy Dowd Jr. to mark Linden’s fourth of the season. A few minutes later they extended the lead with a filthy passing play started by Connor McMenamin and Connor MacEachern, finding Ashton Calder for a wide-open tap-in. The pressure continued all game, as the Lions outshot the Wolverines 49-17. Xander Lamppa (Rochester, Minn.) eventually fired in an empty netter at 17:11 of the third period to make a 3-0 final.
Goaltending and high-powered offense were the key factors in shocking Michigan. Liam Souliere earned his second consecutive shutout to improve to 7-0 on the season. It has been 176:19 minutes of game-time action since he has allowed a goal, marking the longest shutout steak in Penn State program history.
Saturday Night Breakdown
No. 13 ranked Penn State tallied three third-period goals to force overtime on Saturday night.
The Wolverines managed to break the Lion’s 10 straight penalty kills, as T.J. Hughes scored his fourth of the season. It was about ten minutes later that Hughes potted another one to make it 2-0 at 12:21 of the opening frame. The Wolverines kept pressing with strong forechecks, creating an opportunity for Samoskevich to make it 3-0 Michigan.
The Lions never gave up, thriving off the roar zone, they scored three goals in under four minutes to force overtime. Third-period goal scorers included Tyler Paquette, Kevin Wall, and Xander Lamppa. This marked Lamppa’s second goal of the weekend and third point in the series. Unfortunately, Michigan only needed 24 seconds to score the game-winner in overtime.
Adam Fantilli slipped one five holes past Liam Souliere. Overall, the weekend was a huge success for the Nittany Lions, coming very close to a sweep against the No. 1 ranked team in the country. I believe it’s safe to say, Penn State hockey has the talent for a big ten championship run. They should easily slide into the top 10 come Monday and continue to challenge opponents with high-flying offense and stellar goaltending.
The Lions face off against No. 3 ranked Minnesota for an away series this Thursday/Friday. Other important matchups include Michigan State, Ohio State, and Notre Dame all before Christmas break. It is incredibly vital that Penn State brings the same success outside of Pegula. A streak of conference wins would mean a potential spot in the NCAA frozen four national tournament at Amelia Arena in Tampa (April 6th – April 8th).
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