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Penn State Hockey: Michigan Hands Nittany Lions One Final Loss As Season Comes To Close

by on March 18, 2016 7:25 PM

In truth you've read this game story before, so we're going to get to the point.

Michigan beat Penn State on Friday afternoon in the Big Ten tournament semifinals 7-2. It was a game like the four others between these two teams this season that had come before. This variation was a little different, but no less one-sided than all of them eventually turned out to be.

On Friday Michigan scored twice in the first period to open a sizable gap between the two squads. Along the way Penn State managed to find two goals of its own, but by then things had already been decided. Eamon McAdam was pulled, Matthew Skoff put together a final performance in the Blue and White and a shorthanded and battered Penn State roster fought right down to the very end.

It was not too long ago that Penn State was an NCAA tournament hopeful, if not at the time, a lock for an at-large bid. But there was the undeniable issue still lying ahead, a Michigan team with the beset top line in the nation. A line that boasts three of the best players in the country all of which are up for college hockey's equivalent of the Heisman trophy.

Imagine having three Cam Newtons on skates. It's a tall order for any team to face.

And so it comes as no real surprise that the Nittany Lions tried hard but came up short against the Wolverines as Penn State faced Michigan three times in the season's final four games. As Penn State looked to find a way into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history, it would be forced to go through the program it wants to become.

This is not to say the Nittany Lions failed though, the third season of Big Ten play yielded the program's best ever results. A third place finish, a 21-13-4 record that includes five losses to Michigan. Certainly big things require big wins, but in a season where scoring was supposed to be limited and there were more unknowns than certainties, Penn State hockey once again took a step forward against the odds. It's also again worth mentioning that Penn State's senior class went from not having an arena, to having a real shot at the NCAA tournament within their careers. A feat not to be overlooked.

If anything the 2015-16 season is the start of something new for Penn State hockey. When the ice is frozen once again on the Pegula Ice Arena surface next fall, fans will expect results. With more talent slated to join the program with those expectations, it may not be out of the question that those expectations will be met.

And like all of college hockey, Penn State will be glad that Michigan's top line will be long gone by the time these two teams face again.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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