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Penn State hockey’s once-promising season ends at the hands of Michigan

The Nittany Lions were looking for the program’s first Frozen Four appearance. But it wasn’t meant to be.



Penn State hockey, Michigan hockey
Apr 7, 2022; Boston, MA, USA; Michigan Wolverines forward Jimmy Lambert (23) celebrates with defenseman Nick Blankenburg (7) and defenseman Ethan Edwards (73) after scoring a goal against the Denver Pioneers during the second period of the 2022 Frozen Four college ice hockey national semifinals at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Allentown, PA — College hockey is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ world. Penn State hockey needed to put its NCAA tournament record 8-0 win over Michigan Tech behind it quickly. The page turned to a steeper task but with a greater reward. On Sunday, a date with Michigan hockey and a trip to the Frozen Four was on the line. The challenge may have been daunting, but Penn State hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky wasn’t too worried.

“Relax and enjoy…You don’t have to stress about it. We know what we’re gonna do,” Gadowsky said after Friday’s game on how the team would spend the day off Saturday.

The fans seemed more restless than the team to get things started before the matchup with the Wolverines. After a somewhat lackluster showing on Friday, likely due to the odd 5:00 p.m. weekday start time, Penn State fans turned up in droves. Fans traveled from all over the state, even as far as Pittsburgh, to see the Nittany Lions get a crack at the Frozen Four.

Lions play with fire

The Nittany Lions were the decided underdog in this game, and they played like it for most of the first period. Michigan opened the game with several great scoring chances off failed Penn State clears. That would be a theme for most of the period.

When Penn State finally weathered Michigan’s initial wave, it took an offensive zone penalty sending Michigan to the power play. Junior goaltender Liam Souliere was forced to make many strong saves on Michigan’s NHL talent-laden power play.

Souliere’s effort was the sole reason Michigan did not score multiple goals in the period. Penn State had multiple failed clears and defensive collapses, but Souliere stopped all of Michigan’s high-danger chances. 

Penn State would get a few good looks in the period, but they were all turned aside or thwarted by Michigan’s defense. The teams headed to the locker room with 14 shots a piece. The score was 0-0, even if it didn’t feel like it.

On its heels, Penn State hockey breaks through late

The second period took on a much slower pace. Each team only recorded one shot in the first five minutes of the period. But as expected, the speed of play opened back up. There was nearly a six-minute stretch of no whistles, which included multiple chances for both squads.

Penn State would take another offensive zone penalty, and it seemed as if Michigan would finally break through. Souliere had other ideas, though, and kept the game scoreless. Shortly after, Penn State would draw its first powerplay of the nightSenior forward Connor MacEachern would have a rebound bounce right to his stick. He put into the yawning cage to give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead.

Michigan had great chances to tie in the period’s final seconds. But luckily for the Nittany Lions, the clock ran out. Penn State took a seemingly improbable lead into the intermission. 

Michigan hockey gets even

The third period was dominated by the Wolverines. They started throwing anything and everything they could at the net. Penn State took another penalty, and this one cost them. Michigan hockey star freshman Adam Fantilli tied the game at one.

Penn State hockey responded well and controlled much of the puck possession the rest of the way. But the Lions couldn’t break through, however, and the game headed to overtime.


Just 52 seconds into overtime, Michigan forward Mackie Samoskevich fired the puck by Souliere. It ended the game and the season for the Nittany Lions.

The loss ends what was once a promising season for the Nittany Lions. After spending much of the season ranked in the top five and earning multiple wins over No. 1 ranked teams, this was finally the year Penn State was supposed to break into the Frozen Four. But it wasn’t to be.

Gadowsky took a reflective tone after the game, saying, “It’s an honor to be a part of this…I feel bad for the guys on the team who aren’t gonna get this opportunity again. But I look forward to getting back.”

Penn State now has the tall task of replacing eight scholarship spots for next season, including the team’s top five goal scorers. Five incoming freshmen are committed, including the very talented Matthew DiMarsico, who could hear his name called in the NHL Draft this summer. The remaining three scholarships must be filled out via the transfer portal.

That new look Nittany Lion team will hit the ice in October 2023, still looking for the program’s first Frozen Four berth.

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Jaret is a Penn State alum who covers Penn State sports for Basic Blues Nation. He is very passionate about the Nittany Lions and loves sharing his passion for the school through writing.


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