Penn State vs. LIU Series Preview
Penn State last played in front of a full Pegula Ice Arena on Feb. 22, 2020 against Minnesota.
Fast forward over a year and a half later and the Nittany Lions will welcome the youngest program in the nation, Long Island, for a Sunday-Monday series in University Park.
Guy Gadowsky’s team finished 10-12 last season, but managed to make it to the Big Ten tournament semifinals, despite finishing fifth in the regular season standings.
Alex Limoges has departed the program as one of the most successful players in program history, tallying 125 points, which is good for third in Penn State history.
But with another season approaching, there comes new responsibility as defenseman Paul DeNaples will take over as captain for a team that has a good balance of under and upperclassmen.
“It really helps the dynamic as a team,” DeNaples said. “It’s (the production) not just coming from one side, it’s coming from everyone.”
Kevin Wall and Connor McMenamin are expected to spearhead an offense that took a step back last season. The duo combined for 34 points and will look to increase that total.
Additionally, Colorado College transfer, Ben Copeland will add some much needed experience at the center position.
Like Barclay Goodrow of the New York Rangers, Copeland knows how to keep plays alive and create havoc out front.
Other players to look out for are Long Island native Christian Sarlo, Connor MacEachern, first-year player Ryan Kirwan and Jared Westcott.
Clayton Phillips and DeNaples will likely be the top defensive pair with players such as Jimmy Dowd Jr, Christian Berger and Mason Snell not very far behind.
Oskar Autio finished the 2020-2021 season on a high note and the Finnish prospect will look to become one of the top netminders in a stacked conference, where players such as Jack LaFontaine, Drew DeRidder and Matt Galajda will rule the roost.
Looking at the Sharks from LIU, it’s year two for head coach Brett Riley and company and the team presents 16 transfer players.
Of those 16 players, four made the pilgrimage from Alaska Anchorage to go play on Long Island.
Goalies Kris Carlson and Long Island native Brandon Perrone, then forwards Tanner Schachle and Zach Nazzarett will all look to make an impact this season.
Schachle only logged one assist in nine games played after joining the Sharks in the second half of the season, but he is a big bodied forward at 6-foot-4 and is a matchup concern.
Nolan Welsh is the returning point scorer for coach Riley’s team, tallying seven points (three goals and four assists) in the inaugural season.
The Sharks also have Vinnie Purpura in the goalie room after the departure of Garrett Metcalf. In four appearances, the former Boston University Terrier had a 1-2 record with a 3.40 goals-against-average and a .902 save percentage.
With fans back in the seats of Pegula Ice Arena, the atmosphere is expected to return to its peak form and will welcome both teams to the ice with open arms.
Penn State and LIU are just two of the teams, along with plenty of others, ushering in a brand new season of college hockey and it is expected to be another exciting couple of months.
Expect both sides to come out fired up, but also a little bit weary at first. Penn State is a team that feeds off of the crowd’s energy and those in the stands will propel the Nittany Lions to a season opening sweep of the Sharks.
Prediction: Penn State sweeps
Christopher Hess is a fifth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.