Penn State Men’s Hockey vs. Notre Dame Series Preview
After earning a hard-fought victory at Army on New Year’s day, Penn State is preparing to plunge into its all conference schedule to end the season.
Conference play has not been kind to the Nittany Lions going just 3-7 against fellow Big Ten teams this season. Coach Guy Gadowsky mentioned that the Big Ten’s massive talent and competitive level are nothing new.
"All the teams stack up on a national level,” Gadowsky said, “You’re going to see this year after year.”
It will not get any easier for the blue and white with four Big Ten teams ranked inside the top 20 in the nation. Penn State will have to face all of these squads in the stretch run and produce at least a series sweep or two if they want to be considered for the NCAA tournament.
On the bright side for Penn State, newcomer forward Dylan Lugris scored his first goal in his first game for the blue and white. The Freshman was playing his hockey with the Jersey Hitmen before being brought to Penn State in December.
“I just kind of buried my head down and shot it at the net,” Lugris said. “It was my first one and probably the most memorable one I’ll have.”
The Nittany Lions will need to channel their depth scoring if they want to produce positive results against the Fighting Irish.
In its matchup at West Point, Penn State had five different goal scorers including two of the team’s leading goal scorers in junior forwards Connor MacEachern and Kevin Wall as well as Lugris.
“We are most successful when we’re scoring from everywhere rather than all eggs in one basket,” Gadowsky said of his team’s offense.
On the Notre Dame side, the Fighting Irish are coming off a surprising series with Niagara. On home ice, Notre Dame split the series losing game one 3-1 and responding emphatically with a 5-0 win.
This Niagara team has been struggling all year long and was swept by Penn State earlier in the season. The Nittany Lions took down the Purple Eagles by scores of 4-0 and 6-2 at Pegula Ice Arena.
The Fighting Irish will certainly want to turn it up against Penn State with leading scorer junior forward Max Ellis and star graduate student goaltender Matthew Galajda playing major roles.
Galajda struggled a bit in his last start but has put up outstanding numbers all season with a goals-against-average well under two and a save percentage of .930.
Under coach Jeff Jackson the Fighting Irish always play a tough style of hockey that constantly gives other teams fits.
However, Penn State might be catching Notre Dame at the right time here. Judging by its series against Niagara, it seems like Jackson’s team is still trying to get the rust off from the Christmas break.
Meanwhile, Penn State came out of the pause with a strong road win in a game that was rather spontaneous in terms of scheduling.
Despite the talent of Notre Dame likely being superior to Penn State, this series is much more important for the blue and white.
Prediction: Penn State sweeps with at least one of the matchups requiring overtime.
Maclain Young is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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