Michigan ruled The Garden on Saturday.
And the Wolverine men’s hockey team dominated the third period.
After the basketball team won the afternoon battle, the Michigan men’s hockey team rallied with a four-goal final period to earn a 6-3 win over Penn State in the Big Ten Super Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Third-period goals by Boo Nieves, Justin Selman and two from Tyler Motte helped the No. 6 Wolverines wrap up the comeback.
“They definitely had some good energy,” said David Goodwin, who scored the Nittany Lions’ first goal of the night.
Alex Kile and JT Compher also had goals for Michigan (16-3-4, 7-1-2-1) to sweep the weekend of games in New York and Thursday in Pegula Ice Arena. The nation’s highest scoring team collected 13 goals for the weekend.
Andrew Sturtz and Ricky DeRosa also scored for No. 15 Penn State (16-7-3, 6-4) while Eamon McAdam stopped 43 shots. His counterpart Steve Racine made 34 saves.
The Wolverines outshot the Nittany Lions 49-36 for the game, and dominated 22-11 in the third.
It was a matter of maintaining possession of the puck.
“They won three faceoffs in a row that switched things around a bit,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “I don’t think that’s a matter of us sitting back. I think that gave them a lot of momentum.”
It seemed Michigan had an extra jump in its step in the third, and seized the momentum right away.
“We went back, regrouped and said we’ve been in this position before,” Nieves said. “We definitely have a lot of game left, definitely have a lot more in the tank.”
First, Nieves tied it with a blast from the wing just 2:19 into the period, a big moment for the upstate New York native and Rangers draft pick.
“It’s definitely something that you keep in the back of your mind,” Nieves said. “I was more focused on getting a team win and making sure we take care of things on our Michigan end first.”
Tied 3-3 until just past the third period’s midpoint, a sweet feed from Tony Calderone from behind the net found Selman for the go-ahead one-timer. With a big cheering section in the seats, it was a happy moment for the northern New Jersey native.
Motte scored the insurance goal from the slot on a feed from Compher, then added an empty net score with 1:55 left while on a power play.
“Our team can skate and we went down to three lines most of the period,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “That’s when your endurance is really tested in a tough game like that. I thought we held up well.”
For all the offense, it took a little while to start the scoring – by the standards of these teams.
Kile netted the first one when he picked up a loose puck in the slot, lost control and gathered it again before a backhand flick past McAdam with 5:05 left in the first.
Goodwin tied it with 40.7 seconds left in the period, redirecting a feed from the boards by Vince Pedrie.
“Vince Pedrie made a great play on the wall, pinched (the) puck and just did a nice shot pass,” Goodwin said. “I was able to tip it in. Great play by Pedrie.”
The action picked up in the opening moments of the second. A penalty right off the faceoff gave Penn State a power play just three seconds in, but Compher capitalized first on a shorthanded breakaway.
The lead was short-lived, with Pedrie sending the puck across the crease to Sturtz for a toe-drag and wrist shot less than two minutes later. It was his team-leading 13th goal of the season.
Just under three minutes later, DeRosa pounced on a puck that had been knocked down by a Wolverine defender, flicking the puck softly at Racine, and it trickled under the goalie and across the line.
Just before that, it appeared David Glen had scored when he knocked in a rebound in a flurry in front of the net, but the referees ruled the puck was dead.
“He said that he was getting ready to blow the whistle,” Gadowsky said. “He thought the puck did go in before he blew the whistle, but he was late on it – that was his explanation.”
It was a tough ending after the team was 20 minutes away from an emotional victory.
“We need to play all three periods,” Goodwin said, “to have success against a good team like Michigan.”
Notes: Penn State heads west next weekend with a visit to conference leader Minnesota on Friday and Saturday. … The game drew 13,479, and the announced attendance for the day was 27,387. … Penn State was 1 for 3 on the power play, also giving up the shorthanded score, and Michigan was 1 for 4.