Penn State bounces UM; Berenson mum on future

Al Willman
The Detroit News

Detroit — In the week leading up to Thursday night’s 4-1 Big Ten quarterfinals loss to Penn State, there was speculation regarding Michigan coach Red Berenson, and whether or not he would retire at the end of his 33rd season with the Wolverines.

If Berenson has made a decision, he’s not going to say what it is, at least not yet.

“I’m disappointed that it was an issue,” said Berenson, whose career record is 848-426-92. “I don’t know where it started. But I can tell you what it is. It’s similar to last year. I’m going to have a meeting with (Michigan AD) Warde Manuel. We talked on Tuesday, and we talked about revisiting the hockey program’s coaching situation (and) after the Frozen Four, we’ll decide what’s best for the program.

“Nothing’s decided, there’s no ultimatums, nothing like that. So you can forget about it for now.”

The first of Penn State’s three goals in the opening period came on the power play.

After Jake Slaker picked up a minor for charging at 8:56, Liam Folkes fired off a snap shot that got behind Zach Nagelvoort to make it 1-0 at 10:50.

The Nittany Lions (21-11-2) jumped out to a 2-0 lead at 13:24, when Nate Sucese took a pass from Denis Smirnov, scoring off the heel of his stick.

David Goodwin made it 3-0 at 19:31.

“Yeah, that was definitely the start we wanted,” Goodwin said. “We felt we took the pedal off the metal a little bit in the second (period). But after a good first period, it put us in a good spot to be successful throughout the game.”

Things didn’t get much better for Michigan to start the second period.

After Sucese won a faceoff against UM’s Cooper Marody, Vince Pedrie fired off a slapshot from just inside the blue line that trickled by Naglevoort at 1:03.

“I thought the team that got the best start tonight was going to have the advantage,” Berenson said. “We just couldn’t answer the bell. It was a tough night to get things started offensively. Give Penn State credit. They played hard, they played the right way and we just weren’t good enough.”

The Wolverines (13-18-3) appeared to get on the board at 2:22, when Alex Kile took a rebound and put it in high, but after review, Kile was determined to be offside, negating the goal.

“It was unfortunate that we got the goal disallowed on the offsides,” Michigan defenseman Sam Piazza said. “We had a bunch of chances in the second (period). It was just one of those nights where you couldn’t put it in the net, unfortunately.”

At 10:19, Michigan was on the winning side of a review.

James Sanchez put a rebound behind Penn State goaltender Peyton Jones, but it was unclear whether the puck went off Sanchez’s glove or stick.

Sanchez’s power-play goal was upheld, making it 4-1.

For his part, Naglevoort settled in after a rocky first period, in which he allowed three goals on 13 shots.

Naglevoort stopped eight of the nine shots he saw in the second period and all 12 in the third.

“I didn’t tell him anything,” Berenson said. “I think he was victimized on a couple of the goals. He’s played so well for us and he gave us, we thought, our best chance. He had momentum coming into this tournament. He got shutouts in his last two Big Ten games.”

This weekend represents the end of college hockey at Joe Louis Arena.

Berenson, who played at Olympia Stadium as a member of the Red Wings, was coaching the St. Louis Blues, who played the Wings on Dec. 27, 1979, the night the Joe opened.

“Don’t think that all those teams that played in the Joe Louis Arena weren’t thrilled to play here,” he said. “It’s been great for college hockey.”

Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said he recognizes the importance the Joe has played in its 38 years, but doesn’t want to dwell on it until the tournament run ends for the Nittany Lions — whenever that is.

“I think it means a little more, but we’re not thinking about that right now,” he said. “I think depending how the rest of the weekend goes, it’s something we’re going to look back on. But right now, I mean, I don’t care if we’re playing on the moon. We just want to win.”

Jones, who was named the Big Ten’s top freshman goalie, stopped 30 of 31 for Penn State, which plays Minnesota (23-10-3) in the second semifinal at 8 p.m. Friday.

Al Willman is a freelance writer