There were no dramatic comebacks this time for the Penn State hockey team.
The No. 15 Nittany Lions posted their fourth straight weekend split with a 5-2 loss to Michigan on Saturday at Pegula Ice Arena.
Tony Calderone had two goals and one assist to lead the Wolverines (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten). Brendan Warren, Dexter Dancs and Nick Pastujov also had goals.
Nate Sucese and Nikita Pavlychev converted for Penn State (4-4, 2-2), which scored with 1:32 left in regulation and won in the first minute of overtime Friday.
“It was a tough loss last night to give up a lead late and then lose in overtime,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson said. “This team’s new for me and I’m not sure how we’d react.”
The Nittany Lions’ energy level did not seem the same Saturday.
“After a big win it’s kind of a little bit harder to sleep,” forward Chase Berger said. “You’re still pumped up and you’re kind of running off that. At the end of the day it’s all down to us. We’ve got to make sure we’re prepared, come out and create our own energy.”
Player of the Game
Calderone, the senior captain, gave the Wolverines an early lead for the second straight night, knocking in a rebound on his own shot 4:10 into the contest, then hitting the top shelf on a power play from the slot in the second period. He also assisted on Dancs’ score early in the third.
Warren scored nine seconds after Calderone’s second tally with rocket off an offensive-zone faceoff.
Sucese got the Lions on the board with 1:08 left in the second, redirecting a Trevor Hamilton rocket from the point.
Michigan got two more goals in quick succession early in the third, with Dancs and Pastujov scoring 1:14 apart to build a 5-1 lead before Pavlychev converted while being pulled down by Wolverine defenseman Luke Martin.
Denis Smirnov was held without a point, the first scoreless game for the sophomore since the season opener at Clarkson. His best chance came on a first-period, on a shorthanded 2-on-1 break.
Despite plenty of chances, the Nittany Lions were 0 for 6 on power plays, including four shots but no scores on a first-period, five-minute major. They also were 0 for 3 Friday night, and entered the weekend 8 for 23 with a man advantage.
“Disappointed in the result,” coach Guy Gadowsky said of the unit, “not the effort.”
Nittany Lions Andrew Sturtz, whose 44 career goals are tied for second in program history and one off the team record, and Brandon Biro did not play Saturday, scratched after injuries suffered in Friday’s game.
“Those are two excellent players on the right side,” Gadowsky said, not divulging any details about their absence. “I thought we filled their holes pretty well.”
Penn State goalie Peyton Jones continued to struggle. He was pulled in the third after giving up his fifth goal, relieved by Chris Funkey. Jones, who made 20 saves, allowed nine goals by the Wolverines and has given up 20 scores in the last two weeks.
I feel your pain
The arena crowd was not at full capacity — the student section was only about two-thirds full — and there was definitely a lack of energy compared to Friday because of the Penn State football team’s loss to Ohio State, with the game ending about a half-hour before faceoff. Pearson understood how the fans and team could be affected.
“I don’t know that it helped us as much as it maybe hurt them,” Pearson said. “I’ve been around Michigan a long time. You can get deflated when your football team loses a big game. I’ve been part of that. It doesn’t feel good. You just hope your team understands it’s a hockey weekend, not a football weekend.”
The Nittany Lions complete their six-game homestand hosting Mercyhurst at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Erie school will make its first appearance at Penn State.