March 15, 2017
The University of Michigan ice hockey team (13-18-3) will meet a familiar foe on Thursday (March 16, 8 p.m.), Penn State (21-11-2), in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament at Joe Louis Arena.
Michigan faces the Nittany Lions for the 19th time, all in B1G regular-season or tournament play, and the matchup marks the second year in a row the two programs have met in the Big Ten Tournament following a regular-season weekend series finale at Yost.
The Wolverines hold a 10-8-0 edge in the all-time series, which dates back to the 2013-14 season.
Michigan is coming off a weekend sweep in Ann Arbor of Penn State, winning Friday, 3-2, while capturing a 4-0 shutout on Saturday. Penn State swept both games of the series when Michigan traveled to State College earlier this season.
Michigan has won seven of the last nine contests against the Nittany Lions, outscoring them 42-24 in those games.
The two programs met in the inaugural Big Ten Tournament opening round during the 2013-14 season, when Penn State bested U-M, 2-1, in double overtime. Zach Nagelvoort recorded a program-record 63 saves in the overtime loss.
Last season, U-M swept the regular-season series, scoring 26 goals over the four-game span. The Wolverines also bested the Nittany Lions in the B1G Semifinals, 7-4.
The two teams met last season at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York, as part of the Big Ten Super Saturday doubleheader with men's basketball. U-M won that contest, 6-3.
Penn State is led by All-Big Ten first team defenseman Vince Pedrie, who led all Big Ten blue-liners in goals with seven while adding 19 assists for 26 points.
Their offensive attack, which ranks second in the country (4.02 goals per game), is led in large part to freshman Denis Smirnov, who leads the country in freshman scoring with 43 points (17 g, 26 a) and a +22 rating.
STARS ALLIGNING FOR NAGS
After a Senior Night shutout over Penn State, which consisted of a season-high 46 saves, goaltender Zach Nagelvoort was named the B1G Hockey First Star of the Week -- his second first-star accolade in the last three weeks.
Junior defenseman Sam Piazza was named a All-Big Ten honorable mention and Sportsmanship Award honoree after leading the Michigan blueline with 14 points (6g, 8a) in the regular season.
SLAKER LEADS THE WAY
Jake Slaker maintains his team-leading 21 points (7g, 14a) while also leading the team with 14 assists and 14 power-play points heading into the tournament.
WELCOME BACK, COOP
After returning to the team for the second half of the season, Cooper Marody has recorded 14 points (5g, 9a) in 17 games while also leading the team with a .544 (166/305) faceoff percentage.
Eleven Wolverines have scored their first collegiate goals this season, which include eight freshmen (Will Lockwood, Griffin Luce, Luke Martin, Steven Merl, Nick Pastujov, James Sanchez, Jake Slaker and Adam Winborg), the most rookie scorers since the 2009-10/2007-08 seasons. The freshman class accounts for 84 of the team's 223 total points heading into the tournament.
Freshmen Jack LaFontaine and Hayden Lavigne have combined with senior Zach Nagelvoort between the pipes for the Maize and Blue, with Lavigne and Nagelvoort appearing in 13 games, while Lafontaine has seen action in 11 games.
After scoring three goals this past weekend, junior forward Tony Calderone has a team-leading 15 goals heading into the tournament while also riding a team-high four-game goal streak.
CAREER YEAR FOR ALLEN
Senior Evan Allen has recorded nine points in his last 13 games while tallying career-highs in points (12), goals (6), assists (6) and games played (27) this season.
After a three assist game against Penn State on Saturday, freshman Will Lockwood has recorded double-digit assists (12) in his rookie campaign to go along with eight goals.
U-M has registered six shorthanded goals thus far, tied for fourth most in NCAA DI coming into the weekend. They have already reached the total from last season (6). Will Lockwood's two shorthanded goals is tied for third in NCAA DI.
JUST BLOCKIN' IT
Michigan leads all of NCAA DI in blocked shots per game with 17. 74 average and a total of 603 heading into the weekend.
Communications Contact: TJ Garske