Ice Hockey

Nick Pastujov hit iron three times in the first period against Penn State in Michigan's 5-2 loss.

NEW YORK CITY — If you count striking iron, Nick Pastujov had a hat trick in the first period alone, and Michigan led Penn State, 4-3.

Officials don’t though, and nothing in the rulebook would have aided the Wolverines’ offensive execution on Saturday night.

Senior defenseman Joseph Cecconi lost his footing, allowing a breakaway that led to a Penn State goal in Michigan's 5-2 loss.

Saturday’s 5-2 loss at Madison Square Garden was in complete contrast to the near perfect defensive performance put forth on Thursday by the Wolverines.

It was a tale of defensive gaffes.

Sophomore defenseman Quinn Hughes turned the puck over twice that directly led to Penn State goals

NEW YORK CITY — Quinn Hughes went into the locker room and turned to the team. After a poor showing defensively, Hughes did what he had to do. He was accountable for his sloppiness in Saturday’s game against No. 15 Penn State, one that the Michigan hockey team lost, 5-2, with the sophomore defenseman at the epicenter.

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Lavigne sprawled out to make the save as Limoges wound his way to the front of the crease, waiting to shoot the puck until Lavigne was flat on the ice. One quick flip of his stick later and Penn State led 5-1.

Though Michigan tacked on another goal in the third period, the comeback came up short. The Nittany Lions went on to take the second game of the series, 5-2.

Junior forward Will Lockwood scored in the second period to help lift the Wolverines.

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.

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The first two matchups between the Michigan hockey team and No. 15 Penn State resulted in a total of 23 goals scored.

Mel Pearson's Michigan hockey team is in a similar place as Penn State.

At that point, the Nittany Lions seemed set. With college hockey’s most dominant offense and All-American candidates like Evan Barratt and Alex Limoges, Penn State seemed destined to establish itself as one of the best teams in the Big Ten.

But since then, Penn State and Michigan are 4-7-2 and 2-4-6, respectively, since that roller-coaster of a series. After lurking around the top 10 of the Pairwise, the Nittany Lions find themselves at 18th. Like the Wolverines at the beginning of the season, Frozen Four hopes were not an unrealistic ideal. But also like Michigan, it’s on the outside looking in.

Dakota Raabe and Garrett Van Wyhe are two crucial players on Michigan's penalty kill.

Some players thrive with their backs against the wall.

Few moments throughout a hockey game better reveal who those players are than on the penalty kill. The Michigan hockey team may have found a pair of skaters who fit that mold.

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As Mel Pearson sat down in the offices at Yost Ice Arena on Monday, he admitted he was disappointed with his Michigan hockey team.

Pearson had just walked in from the Wolverines’ practice, and coming off a bye week, Pearson’s team didn’t have a great Monday practice.

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Dakota Raabe walked into the Michigan hockey locker room last January to find his locker empty.

Then a freshman, Raabe had been dealing with some academic issues and the Wolverines decided to send a message to him.