Penn State Looking for First Sweep in Nearly a Month Against Alaska
After a raucous stretch of four straight Big Ten series, the Penn State Nittany Lions will take on non-conference opponent Alaska Fairbanks in a mid-week clash at Pegula Ice Arena.
Penn State had its share of high-highs and low-lows during its run of eight straight conference tilts.
On one hand, the blue and white defeated a nationally ranked No. 1 team in the country for the first time in their history in Michigan just to achieve the same feat less than a week later at Minnesota.
The Nittany Lions also completed a sweep on the road at Wisconsin for the first time since February 2017.
However, outside of the Wisconsin series, Penn State could not complete series sweeps.
The Nittany Lions lost every game two they played in after sweeping the Wisconsin series. This has led to three straight splits for Penn State.
Penn State’s power play also struggled mightily over the stretch of Big Ten play. At one point, the man-advantage unit was a staggering 2-for-its-last-25.
The power play finally looked on in the Nittany Lions most recent contest, but the Michigan State Spartans ended up winning in a rout, 7-3.
All of this, and Penn State finds itself with an 11-3 record and in third place of a stacked Big Ten.
Part of the reason for the Nittany Lions standing so tall and surpassing many’s expectations is their undefeated non conference record.
Penn State is currently 6-0 against non Big Ten opponents and is averaging just over five goals per contest against those foes.
This series with Alaska Fairbanks is a chance for the Nittany Lions to regain their offensive confidence and give some of their young defense the extra reps they desperately need.
Alaska has played in a lot of low scoring affairs averaging 2.11 goals per game which is good for 51st in the nation while only giving up 2.28 goals a night which put the Nanooks up at 13th in the country.
Regardless of the numbers, if the Nittany Lions play their style of play the right way like coach Guy Gadowsky preaches, Penn State should be able to earn itself its first series sweep since Wisconsin on October 29th.
This series presents a fantastic opportunity for key pieces like Ryan Kirwan and Liam Souliere to bounce back.
Kirwan was a healthy scratch in Penn State’s last game after not scoring in eight straight games. The sophomore forward was one of the Nittany Lions’ top goal scorers as a freshman last season.
Souliere did not fare much better. His night was done against Michigan State less than halfway through the first period.
The junior netminder conceded three goals on a mere six shots in that time period before being chased for freshman Noah Grannan.
Ultimately, it's a chance for the blue and white to get back on the right track in the type of contest they have been phenomenal in. But, a midweek series with little fans due to the university’s Thanksgiving break could lead to a potential disaster.
Maclain Young is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.