NEW YORK — No. 15 Penn State had No. 6 Michigan reeling through two periods at Madison Square Garden here Saturday night, leading 3-2 after controlling the action. If not for multiple Nittany Lion shots that pinged off the posts and crossbar, it might have been even worse.
But it wasn’t.
The Wolverines found their rhythm in the third period, pouring in four goals to win going away, 6-4. U of M swept the two-game series, which began with a 7-4 win at Pegula Ice Arena Thursday then continued with the two-goal win in the nightcap of the BIG Super Saturday basketball-hockey double header here Saturday.
“I’m sorry we lost because it was a great atmosphere,” said PSU coach Guy Gadowsky, whose team fell to 16-7-3 overall and 6-4-0 in the Big Ten.
Portions of the well-lubricated crowd of 13,479 Penn State and Michigan fans roared every time one of the teams scored. The action went back and forth until the Nittany Lions’ onslaught of shots finally began to pay serious dividends in the second period.
Down 2-1, Andrew Sturtz scored on a power play two minutes into the period to knot it at 2-2. Three minutes later, Ricky DeRosa settled a puck that had popped into the air and got it past Wolverine keeper Steve Racine for a 3-2 lead.
Also in the second period, the Lions had a shot that trickled under Racine and into the net. Penn State fans went crazy. But it was quickly waved off.
“(The referee) said that he was getting ready to blow the whistle,” Gadowsky said. “And that he thought that the puck went in before he blew the whistle, but he was late on it. That was his explanation.”
It meant the difference between a 3-2 and 4-2 lead for the Lions after two periods.
Michigan (16-3-4, 7-1-2-1) tied it 3-3 early in the third. Closing in on the midway point of the period, the Wolverines began to dominate, winning three straight face-offs and getting a goal from defenseman Justin Selman to take the lead for good.
“They won three face-offs in a row, and that switched things around a little bit,” Gadowsky said. “I don’t think that’s a matter of us sitting back. That gave them a lot of momentum.”
U of M right winger Tyler Motte scored five minutes late and then added a power-play, empty-netter with two minutes remaining to account for the final score.
Its NCAA tournament hopes hanging by a thread, Penn State travels to Minnesota next weekend trying to regain the momentum it had built by winning five of six before dropping their last three.