Big Ten Tourney : Penn State 2 – Michigan 1


===================================================================================

The very first Big Ten Conference tournament game in school history provided the perfect opportunity to show why the Nittany Lions ever wanted to make the mighty leap from “club hockey” to the elite level of the NCAA collegiate ranks — and PENN STATE responded accordingly!

Despite having won the sparse total of just seven contests, including only three in the new Big Ten Conference, during the regular season and going into the quarterfinal match-up in St. Paul as decided underdogs, the never-say-die Penn State Nittany Lions were able to parlay diligent defensive play and standout netminding into a landmark 2-1 double overtime triumph over the Michigan Wolverines.

Penn State (8-25-2) did well to kill off three penalties in the first two sessions periods and seized the initial advantage with just 23 seconds to play before the end of the second period. A long home run pass from Canadian legionnaire LUKE JUHA, the sophomore defenseman from Mississauga, Ontario, who led all Big Ten rearguards with four power play goals during the regular season, sent Nittany Lions center TAYLOR HOLSTROM skating in all alone on Michigan shot-stopper ZACH NAGELVOORT, the surprising freshman whose .929 save percentage in 2013/14 would be the second-highest mark in the Wolverines’ storied school history. Holstrom, who finished the regular season in good form having scored four goals in Penn State’s last eight games, had no trouble beating Nagelvoort low to the stick side to register his eighth goal on the 2013/14 NCAA campaign.

==================================================================

==================================================================

Michigan (18-13-4) were able to haul themselves level with just under nine minutes remaining in the third period after Penn State defenseman MIKE WILLIAMSON, the freshman Canadian import whom the Vancouver Canucks had chosen in the sixth round (# 175 overall) of the 2013 National Hockey League Draft, made an ill-advised pass behind his own net that was intercepted by Wolverines center CRISTOBAL NIEVES, the sophomore from Baldwinsville, New York, whom the in-state New York Rangers had snatched in the second round (# 59 overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft; an alert backhand pass from Nieves found Michigan left wing PHIL DI GIUSEPPE in the right faceoff circle and a quick one-timer from the Canadian legionnaire whom the Carolina Hurricanes selected in the second round (# 38 overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft left Penn State goaltender MATTHEW SKOFF no chance whatsoever.

Skoff, the homegrown sophomore from McKees Rock who was the only Penn State goaltender to post a victory throughout the entire 2013/14 NCAA campaign, made a season-high 52 saves in dumping Michigan for a third time this term and was easily the Nittany Lions’ most influential player on the night. Ironically enough, it was actually Penn State’s leading goal-scorer, center ERIC SCHEID, however, who made the most pivotal defensive play of the entire evening in the first overtime with the puck dancing on the goal line after Wolverines center ANDREW COPP, the homegrown sophomore from Ann Arbor who was the nabbed in the fourth round (# 104 overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets, had struck the iron with a backhand shot. Scheid, the redshirt sophomore transfer from Blaine, Minnesota, who led the Nittany Lions with both 11 goals and 20 points in 2013/14 after transferring in from the University of Alaska – Anchorage, stuck his skate out and swept the puck away in the nick of time.

Skoff, for his part, made 23 saves for Penn State while keeping Michigan off the scoreboard during the roughly 33 minutes of overtime play in St. Paul — this after the Nittany Lions netminder had totaled 29 saves during the 60 minutes of normal regulation time.

The greatest Penn State hero of them all would turn out to be none other than ZACH SAAR. The monstrous (6’5″ 235 lbs) freshman right wing from Richland, Michigan, as it was, had also been credited with the game-winning goal when the Nittany Lions defeated the Wolverines 4-0 earlier in the season to secure the all-important first-ever Big Ten Conference victory, as well. Saar gained control of a loose puck in the left circle immediately following a faceoff and whipped a wrist shot that somehow eluded Nagelvoort, who had a remarkable evening with 63 saves, himself, to the stick side.

====================================================================================

====================================================================================

March 20, 2014
Big Ten Conference Quarterfinal
Xcel Engergy Center – St. Paul, Minnesota
Attendance : 7,333

PENN STATE 2 – MICHIGAN 1

39:47 … PSU – Holstrom (Goodwin, Juha)
51:06 … MICH – Di Giuseppe (Nieves)
92:47 … PSU – Saar (Richard)

shots-on-goal : Penn State 65 ( 13 + 16 + 15 + 13 + 8 ) – Michigan 53 ( 11 + 11 + 8 + 15 + 8 )

penalty minutes : Penn State 8 – Michigan 4

MICHIGAN : Nagelvoort – Downing, Bennett ; Serville, Sinelli ; Clare, Lohan – Guptill, Compher, DeBlois ; Motte, Copp, Hyman ; Di Giuseppe, Nieves, Moffatt ; Kile, Lynch, Allen

PENN STATE : Skoff – Jensen, Juha ; Koudys, Thompson ; Williamson, Varley – Bailey, Scheid, DeRosa ; Goodwin, Holstrom, Milley ; Loik, Glen, Brooks ; Olczyk, Richard, Saar

=================================================================================

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.