DETROIT — Here are three takeaways from Penn State’s 4-1 quarterfinal win over Michigan on Thursday.
1. Penn State’s freshmen came to play. It’s not that the rest of the team didn’t, but rookies Liam Folkes and Nate Sucese had the first two goals in the game, with Sucese’s marker at 13:24 in the first in the first holding up to be the game-winning goal. On those first two goals of the game, freshmen Brandon Biro and Denis Smirnov also earned assists, and rookie goaltender Peyton Jones turned away 30 of 31 shots on goal. Sucese also set up Vince Pedrie’s goal at 1:03 in the second.
2. “Goalies can’t score goals.” That was how Michigan coach Red Berenson summarized part of the issue in this game. Senior Zach Nagelvoort was “victimized” on a couple of goals, Berenson said, and didn’t get the offensive support he deserved. What plagued the Wolverines for most of the season haunted them Thursday: an inability to generate solid scoring chances, in spite of their 31 shots on goal. Averaging 2.68 goals per game, the Wolverines had the 41st-best offense in the nation and it showed. James Sanchez’s power-play goal midway through the second was pretty, but it was clear Penn State was stifling the Wolverines all through the game. “We just couldn’t answer the bell,” said Berenson.
3. The Penn State defense didn’t need to block many shots, but when players sacrificed their bodies, they really did so. “I thought we had some great blocks,” said coach Guy Gadowsky, “specifically by Trevor Hamilton, and really strong defensive play.” At 15:43 in the second, Hamilton blocked a shot in the slot with his ankle and limped off the ice. He returned for his next shift, however. Gadowsky said the game from start to finish was a good defensive effort. “I think Ricky DeRosa [and] James Robinson led the way in that regard.”