STATE COLLEGE — On Saturday night at Pegula Ice Arena, David’s stone hit Goliath right between the eyes.
Penn State, in just its second year as a Division I program and winless through nine Big Ten games, stunned the Michigan hockey team with three first-period goals within 10 minutes to cruise to a 4-0 win.
The loss keeps the 10th-ranked Wolverines (6-3-1-1 Big Ten, 14-7-1 overall) behind Wisconsin and Minnesota in the conference standings, though Michigan has two games in hand.
The Nittany Lions fired pucks at the net early and never relented. At 5:31 into the first period, Zach Saar poked a rebound past freshman goaltender Zach Nagelvoort. Six minutes later, forward David Glen slid the puck by the netminder from an awkward angle after Penn State won a faceoff in the offensive zone.
And before the sellout crowd had settled from the second goal, forward Casey Bailey received a pass in the slot and ripped a shot that went five hole on Nagelvoort to find twine.
“Some nights the puck goes in, some nights it doesn’t,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “The puck went in for them, and it didn’t for us.”
The Nittany Lions’ trifecta on nine shots prompted Berenson to pull Nagelvoort for sophomore goaltender Steve Racine. In his first action since Dec. 28 in the Great Lakes Invitational, Racine stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced.
“I don’t think Zach was ready for at least two of them,” Berenson said. “They weren’t even scoring chances.”
Down by three, Wolverines delivered a blow of their own in the second period, though it came on the ice and not on the scoreboard. Freshman defenseman Michael Downing cleanly leveled Nate Jensen as he carried the puck up the ice, which caused a brief stoppage in play as the Penn State (1-9, 5-18-1) defenseman made his way slowly to the bench.
Sophomore forward Boo Nieves nearly scored the goal Michigan desperately needed later in the period, but his slapshot effort on a rolling puck rang off the post and rebounded harmlessly up the ice.
And early into the third period, freshman forward JT Compher’s wraparound try crossed the goal line after a scrum in front of the net, but officials had already whistled the play dead.
“The longer we went, the harder it was to score,” Berenson said.
Forward Ricky DeRosa sealed the game when he added the Nittany Lions’ fourth goal on a slapshot from the blue line that Racine never saw.
Minutes before the final intermission, junior forward Alex Guptill skated off the ice gingerly with an apparent injury when he was sandwiched between two Penn State players. He didn’t return for the third period and left the arena after the game with a large pack of ice taped around his right shoulder.
Berenson acknowledged that Guptill suffered an upper-body injury, but he didn’t comment on the severity.
After PJ Musico and Eamon McAdam split time in goal for Penn State in a 7-3 Wolverines win Friday, Matthew Skoff earned the start Saturday. The sophomore stopped all 32 of Michigan’s shots on the night, including a save late in the third period when he stoned senior forward Derek DeBlois’ partial breakaway with 10 minutes remaining.
And when the final horn sounded, the Nittany Lions poured onto the ice to celebrate their first Big Ten win of the season, an unmitigated thrashing of the Wolverines.