Series Preview: Men’s Hockey vs. Ohio State
Kyle Cannillo, Jordan Hession, Logan Bourandas and Josh Portney discuss if Penn State men's hockey can do it again against the Ohio State Buckeyes after coming off a sweep against Minnesota:
Leading the Big Ten with 15 points, the Penn State men’s hockey team will host the fledgling Ohio State Buckeyes this weekend. The Buckeyes looking to get back on track after losing both games last weekend against Notre Dame in South Bend.
Penn State is also coming off a road series, but, unlike Ohio State, the Nittany Lions were able to take both from Minnesota and snatch their first sweep in Minneapolis in program history.
Continuing their offensive surge from last season, in which the Nittany Lions’ finished the season with over 20 more goals than second place St. Cloud State, Penn State currently leads the country in goals with 52. Last weekend was a prime example of the level at which Penn State’s offense can perform, as they scored 14 goals in their two games against the Golden Gophers.
Contrary to Penn State, the Buckeyes play a more defensive game; they are towards the bottom nationally in goals scored but are tied for sixth in the country with just 17 goals allowed on the year.
Penn State has relied on an offensive attack of junior Sam Sternschein, who is third in the country in goals per game, as well as seniors Nate Sucese and Brandon Biro, who each average well over a point per game.
The Nittany Lions offense will be up against, statistically, one of the best goalies in the country. Buckeyes junior netminder Tommy Nappier is in the top 10 in the NCAA in both save percentage and goals against average, the only such goalie that Penn State has faced this year.
Although Penn State sits at the top of the Big Ten, and in the top six in the national polls, the Buckeyes will be just the second ranked team the Nittany Lions have played this year, after No. 7 Wisconsin was swept in Happy Valley over Halloween weekend.
This series against Ohio State begins a stretch where Penn State will play five of eight games against ranked opponents, including three on the road, as well as two non-conference road games in two different cities in two nights (next weekend at Merrimack and at No. 15 Massachusetts-Lowell).
This weekend will feature the Buckeyes last road games of the calendar year, as they host Michigan State, Minnesota and Colgate in Columbus for their next three series, before heading out west for the Fortress Invitational, the annual midseason NCAA hockey tournament hosted by the Vegas Golden Knights.
After this weekend, the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes will not meet again until February, when they will play two games in Columbus.
Prediction: 1-1 split
Game 1: Penn State 4, Ohio State 1
Game 2: Ohio State 5, Penn State 3
Jeremy Schooler is a junior studying broadcast journalism. To contact him, email at firstname.lastname@example.org.