Series Preview: Men’s Hockey vs. Minnesota
Host Jeremy Ganes and analysts Jordan Mansberger, Jordan Hession and Jacob Cheris discuss Penn State's pivotal series against Minnesota.
Penn State will take the ice for one last time at Pegula Ice Arena in the regular season when the Nittany Lions take on Big Ten opponent Minnesota this weekend. Currently, Penn State has a record of 19-10-3 overall and a conference record of 11-8-3. The Golden Gophers, meanwhile, are 14-11-5 overall and 9-6-5-4 in Big Ten play.
The Nittany Lions are 10-5-2 at Pegula Ice Arena this season, but for as much as that record speaks, they’ve had some tough times defeating Big Ten competition. Recently, Penn State struggled in a home series against Notre Dame, losing both games to the Irish. However, the Nittany Lions did pick up some much-needed momentum last weekend on the road at Wisconsin, splitting the series with the Badgers by losing 4-3 on Friday night then coming back on Saturday to win 3-2.
Although struggles have characterized the Nittany Lions’ play recently, there are a couple positives to this weekend’s matchup against Minnesota. For one, Penn State owns a head-to-head sweep of the Gophers on the season, as the Nittany Lions traveled to Minneapolis in November and came out with two victories. The final score for each game was 8-2 and 6-3, respectively.
As for Minnesota, the Golden Gophers are coming off a road trip to Notre Dame in which they tied Game 1 3-3 (Minnesota won the shootout) and won the second game 2-1. The Gophers are 6-4-3 away from Mariucci Arena.
This weekend’s series is vital for both teams. In the latest USCHO rankings, Penn State came in ranked at No. 11, while Minnesota made an appearance at No. 18. On top of this, the Nittany Lions and Golden Gophers are currently tied atop the Big Ten standings with 36 points each.
Saturday night will also be Penn State’s senior night, at which the program will honor the graduating seniors who played for the Nittany Lions this year. Among the seniors that will be honored are goalie Peyton Jones, forwards Liam Folkes, Nate Sucese, Nikita Pavlychev, Brandon Biro and Blake Gober, and defensemen James Gobetz and Kris Myllari. All of these players will be honored for their time with the Nittany Lions on Saturday night.
The weekend series will be televised on Big Ten network. Puck drop for Game 1 will be at 8:30 p.m., and puck drop for Game 2 will be at 6:30 p.m.
With Big Ten title hopes on the line, this series will be intense. But based on momentum and pure talent, Penn State should come out as the weekend’s victor. The Nittany Lions sweep Minnesota to reclaim sole possession of first place in the Big Ten, giving the seniors a cheery final sendoff in the process.
Prediction: Penn State sweeps 2-0
Game 1: Penn State 6, Minnesota 3
Game 2: Penn State 6, Minnesota 2
Tom Johnston is a fifth-year senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.