This weekend was bittersweet for the Michigan filed hockey team. Saturday saw the second-ranked Wolverines (6-0 Big Ten, 15-2 overall) end their 14-game winning streak with a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime loss to No. 1 Old Dominion Saturday, but they won the Big Ten title against Penn State on Friday.
If Michigan could take anything away from the loss to Old Dominion (6-0 Colonial Athletic Association, 15-2), it is possible that the Wolverines could face them again in the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan dug itself an early 3-0 hole, but began to claw its way back as forward April Fronzoni opened the scoring midway through the first half. Defender Kristi Gannon notched the second Michigan goal off a penalty corner, and Fronzoni pulled the score even with six minutes to go in regulation. But Old Dominion’s Lotte Bant scored the game winner three minutes into the extra session.
Coming into this weekend, the Wolverines had already wrapped up a share of the Big Ten title. But beating Penn State would wrap up the conference schedule with a perfect 6-0 record and an outright title.
That was the case this on Friday, as Michigan beat Penn State, 3-1, to win its second outright Big Ten title and the third title in school history.
This season, the Wolverines were determined to win the conference title after watching both of their biggest rivals share the crown last season. Michigan coach Marcia Pankratz felt that the Big Ten is the primier conference in the nation, and going undefeated in conference play was no easy task.
“This is the toughest Big Ten conference ever, with every team a quality team,” Pankratz said. “The Big Ten is the toughest conference in the nation, and to not lose a game is a really important accomplishment for them.”
Penn State (3-2, 12-3) made things interesting for the Wolverines in the early going on Friday afternoon. After Fronzoni opened the scoring six minutes into the game, the Nittany Lions’ Kelly Concini netted the equalizer just two-and-a-half minutes later.
Defender Stephanie Johnson was the difference for the Wolverines in the game, finding the net for the first time in nearly a month on a penalty corner. Johnson added one more for good measure just before halftime, tying her season record for goals at 11.
In the second half, Michigan was content to play defense and keep shots away from goalkeeper Molly Maloney, who faced only a single shot in the second half.
“Penn State’s speed was real close to ours, and they were the fastest team we’ve played to date,” Pankratz said. “Molly Maloney played solid today in goal and made some important saves on breakaway situations. When your score opportunistic goals and you have solid goalkeeping, it’s going to be a good day.”