All it took was 52 seconds.
At the end of that stretch, the game was effectively over. The Michigan hockey team drained any momentum Penn State had left, scoring three goals in under a minute to extend its lead to 4-0 with 5:47 remaining in the second period.
It started on the power play.
Freshman forward Jimmy Lambert was in a scrum for the puck along the left boards. He escaped with possession, creating space for himself. As he drifted towards the left faceoff circle, the freshman floated a backhanded pass across to junior forward Jake Slaker in the right slot. Slaker fired a one-timer past goaltender Oskar Autio’s glove side to give the Wolverines a 2-0 lead.
“Big-time play on the Slaker goal,” said Michigan coach Mel Pearson. “He does a good job on the wall, steps up, wins a battle, steps off and has the poise and presence and vision … He’s got talent. He’s just connecting the dots, and he had a good game tonight.”
Just 14 seconds later, Michigan scored again.
Freshman forward Nick Blankenburg –– in his debut as a forward –– collected the puck on an errant pass intended for forward Alec Marsh in the Nittany Lions’ defensive zone. Blankenburg deked past one defender, making him fall to the ice, and made a beeline for the net. Though the initial shot was blocked, senior defenseman Nicholas Boka crashed the net and cleaned up the loose puck. He fired a shot past Autio, who was sprawled out in the crease after saving Blankenburg’s attempt.
Boka’s goal came as the crowd was still on its feet celebrating the goal from Slaker. And 38 seconds later, Michigan completed its second-period assault on Penn State.
After sophomore forward Michael Pastujov forced a turnover in the right faceoff circle in the Wolverines’ offensive zone, junior forward Will Lockwood secured the loose puck. He got a shot on net which was saved by Autio. Michigan had several shot attempts in the scrum that ensued in front of the net, Lockwood finished what he started as circled back towards the net and flicked the puck into the back of the net, 4-0.
It was like an all-out blitz of sorts that seemed to catch the Nittany Lions off guard. Michigan continued the pressure and kept Penn State on their heels for the entirety of those 52 seconds and emerged on the other end with a 4-0 lead.
“We would’ve been happy with three goals, probably, in the game, the way we were going,” Pearson said. “… (We) came through tonight. That’s good. It’s nice to see them rewarded by getting to the net. We have to do more of that. We have to get those gritty goals. We’re not gonna make a lot of great plays and fancy plays. We have to simplify things. If we can do that, then we have enough guys who are hungry around the net.”