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With goals two minutes apart early in the third period, Michigan pushed past No. 11 Penn State and onto a narrow 3-2 win over the visiting Nittany Lions. For the struggling Wolverines, the win was their third in three weeks, all three victories upsets over ranked Big Ten teams.
“We’re playing with a little more desperation, a little more urgency, a little more reality,” said coach Red Berenson. “We don’t like our situation but we’re trying to make the most of it. We’re trying to play our best hockey so that, you know, we leave here with some pride and we go to Joe Louis with some confidence and momentum.”
Trailing 2-1 at the start of the third, the Wolverines tied the score on Tony Calderone’s second goal of the night at 2:23, a shot from the right circle that hit Penn State goaltender Peyton Jones on the left shoulder before flipping up and into the net.
Then at 5:25, Brendan Warren flew up the right wing on a two-on-one break and one-timed the puck past Jones, five-hole. In spite of a power-play opportunity midway through the third and more than a minute of empty net at the end, the Nittany Lions couldn’t get another one past Michigan netminder Hayden Lavigne, who made 35 saves in his sixth win of the season.
“We made two terrible turnovers in the third period and it cost us the game,” said Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky. “I thought we played well in every period, but … Michigan has skill. They’re going to capitalize on two-on-ones and two-on-ohs and they certainly did. The good news is that it’s never too late in the season to learn lessons and I hope we learned a big one.”
The Nittany Lions led 1-0 after one when Kris Myllari found the Michigan net with half a second remaining in the period. The goal stood up on review and Gadowsky said that he thought the last-second score would give his team momentum. “I thought that was a huge goal. It looked like it was all the way up until the third.”
At 3:06 in the second, Calderone scored his first of the night from Cooper Marody on a breakaway, but David Thompson recaptured the lead for the Nittany Lions at 15:09 when he shot from between the top of the right circle and the blue line and hit the opposite side of the net.
“They got a couple of breaks that wouldn’t normally go in, and we had good goal keeping on their best chances,” said Berenson. “After that, it was a game of bounces. We might have got a bounce on Brendan Warren’s goal just to get that semi-breakaway, but it was a game of bounces. I think our team’s pushing harder. We’re trying to earn our luck.”
With the win, the Wolverines improve to 12-18-3 (5-12-2-2 Big Ten) but remain in fifth place in the league standings, no matter the outcome of tomorrow night’s rematch with Penn State.
“We’re working hard every week,” said Berenson. “We’re trying to get better. Our team’s trying to get better. We’ve had some really good competition the last three weeks. Look at teams like Ohio State and then Minnesota and now Penn State. These are good, really good, Division I teams, so this is a good test for us. We got away with one tonight. We’ve got to be better tomorrow.”
The Nittany Lions (21-10-2, 10-8-1-0 Big Ten) dropped from third place to fourth in the conference, one point behind Ohio State. The highest Penn State can finish in the final standings is third place and the Nittany Lions cannot finish lower than fourth.
These teams meet again Saturday in the final night of the regular Big Ten season. The puck drops at 7:35 p.m. in Yost Ice Arena.
Big Ten Roundup
No. 5 Minnesota 4, Michigan State 0
Jake Sadek had two goals, including the game winner, and Eric Schierhorn made 24 saves as Minnesota blanked Michigan State, capturing the Big Ten regular-season championship. The title is the fourth consecutive regular-season crown for the Golden Gophers, the only team to have won finished first in the league since Big Ten hockey play began in 2012-2013.
Sadek, a sophomore defenseman with a single career goal coming into tonight’s contest, scored twice in the first period, first at 7:52 from Jake Bischoff and Jack Ramsey, then again at 16:36 from Taylor Cammarata. Darian Romanko scored at 11:31 in the third, and Ryan Collins had the final goal of the night at 19:21.
The win pulls the Golden Gophers back to fourth in the PairWise Rankings, at least for now.
Michigan State (7-23-3, 3-14-2-0 Big Ten) and Minnesota (23-10-2, 14-5-0-0 Big Ten) play again Saturday at 7 p.m. in Mariucci Arena.
No. 15 Ohio State 5, No. 16 Wisconsin 1
Five different Buckeyes scored as Ohio State beat Wisconsin at Madison. With the win, Ohio State moved from fourth to third place in the Big Ten standings, one slim point ahead of Penn State. The loss eliminated any possibility that the Badgers might capture a share of the Big Ten regular-season title.
Drew Brevig scored at 8:54 in the first, unassisted, to put the Buckeyes on the board. At 11:31, David Gust netted his 16th of the season, the goal that held up as the game-winner.
The Buckeyes added two more goals in the second – Dakota Joshua’s at 7:04 and Miguel Fidler’s at 14:02 – and a power-play goal by Mason Jobst at 7:36 in the third. Wisconsin’s only goal was scored on the power play by Matt Ustaski near the midway point of the second period.
Three different Wisconsin goaltenders saw time in net: Matt Jurusik, who played for 3:11 in the second; Jack Berry, who played for 47:07 over three periods and allowed all five goals; and Johan Blomquist, a freshman who saw 9:34 in the third period of tonight’s game, his first action since his only other outing of the season, a stretch of 1:09 he played against Denver Nov. 26.
Ohio State (19-10-6, 10-8-1-1 Big Ten) moved from 17th to 14th in the PairWise Rankings with the win. The Buckeyes can finish as high as third place in the Big Ten and no lower than fourth. Wisconsin (19-13-1, 12-7-0-0 Big Ten) remains on the PWR bubble at No. 15 and will finish the regular season in second place regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s rematch, which begins at 7:07 p.m.