If there is one thing the Penn State men’s hockey team has proven, it can beat Michigan.
Penn State did it again Friday night to open the Big Ten schedule, scoring three first-period goals and withstanding plenty of pressure for a 3-2 win at Yost Ice Arena.
The Wolverines may be one of the nation’s premier college hockey programs, with more national championships than any other team, but the Nittany Lions have their number. The Nittany Lions (7-2-2, 1-0 Big Ten) have now taken 4 of 6 meetings between the teams, including 2 of 3 in Ann Arbor.
Eamon McAdam had a busy night, making 38 saves, including a number of spectacular stops, to earn his second straight win in as many starts this season. In 2 1/2 games the sophomore has surrendered a total of four goals.
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“The result is really all we’re happy with right now,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “We didn’t play well. Luckily we had a tremendous goaltending performance, but I don’t think anybody is happy in that locker room right now. Regardless of who we were playing, we didn’t play well and we were lucky to win. There are three positives — we played with a lot better habits in the defensive zone, Eamon McAdam was fantastic and the result.”
Max Gardiner, Eric Scheid and Casey Bailey scored the goals for Penn State, which was outshot for the first time this season, 40-31.
Michigan (4-6-0, 0-1) put pressure on McAdam right from the opening faceoff with four quick shots. Michigan nearly had a goal 14 seconds in, but David Goodwin kicked the puck away with his skate as it danced on the goal line. Max Shuart got the puck past McAdam just 46 seconds into the period.
The lead stood until the Nittany Lions received their first power play of the night, and Bailey unloaded a shot that glanced off Gardiner’s skate for the senior’s second goal of the season.
A mere 22 seconds later, Scheid stripped the puck from a Wolverine at the Penn State blue line and raced up the ice to beat goalie Zach Nagelvoort to put the Nittany Lions into the lead for good. It was Scheid’s seventh goal of the season.
Bailey then delivered with 2:52 left, also swiping the puck to start a 2-on-1 break the other way and keeping it for his ninth goal of the season.
Michigan’s Zach Wereneski appeared to cut the lead in half midway through the second period, but the goal was wiped out when the officials ruled he deflected the puck with a high stick.
Michael Downing got Michigan with a goal at 3:07 of the third. The Wolverines kept peppering shots on McAdam, but the lead stood the rest of the way. Michigan finished 0 for 4 on the power play, including one in the game’s final three minutes.
“One area where the guys do deserve credit is late in the game,” Gadowsky said. “Their habits in the defensive zone were excellent, but they have to be because we were playing there all the time. And to kill a penalty late I think showed a lot of their grit, but we can’t put ourselves in that position.”
The teams finish the two-game series at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.