Series Preview: Penn State vs. Robert Morris
Host Jeremy Ganes and analysts Andre Magaro and Matt McClure discuss how Penn State can move forward from a surprising series split with Alaska Fairbanks by getting back on track against Robert Morris:
Hockey Valley meets a familiar foe on Friday as the Penn State Nittany Lions host the Robert Morris Colonials in what should be an entertaining matchup. One season ago, these two in-state programs battled in a home-and-home series that resulted in a Nittany Lion sweep. To nobody's surprise, there wasn’t any shortage of goals.
In the first game at Pegula Ice Arena, the Nittany Lions defeated the Colonials 7-2. Just a day later, Penn State tallied 11 goals, the most they scored in program history. All but two players were able to notch at least one point in that game.
Earlier in the season than they would have liked, the Nittany Lions are facing some adversity. In fact, given the expectations, Penn State’s 4-0 loss against Alaska-Fairbanks is considered one of the most embarrassing outcomes in program history.
Alaska-Fairbanks, lucky to still have a college hockey program, outright dominated the Nittany Lions in nearly every facet of that game. Penn State, considered one of the most explosive offenses in NCAA history, failed to score a goal in the contest. That marks the first time in nearly 50 games that the Nittany Lions have been shutout. Up until that game, the Nittany Lions were averaging 6.25 goals per game.
The result spoke for itself. Nittany Lion head coach Guy Gadowsky told the media Monday that he felt it was appropriate that the players had a players only meeting after Friday night’s game. He said nobody was happy with the result.
Robert Morris, while the underdogs heading into the contest, should not be counted out. The Colonials have started the season 3-3 with but have hung with some difficult competition. Sophomore forward Justin Addamo and junior Nick Prkusic have started the year on a point per game pace and could cause havoc for Penn State’s weak defensive pairings.
Robert Morris is hungry for revenge after last season’s beat down. Expect them to come out of the gate with fire. As the game goes on, the Nittany Lions will give the Colonials a chance to re-establish their identity. When they do that, Robert Morris must pounce.
Penn State has a few players of their own who have played well to start the year. The first has been NCAA point leader Nate Sucese, who has really come into his own as a complete player. Usually known for his shot, Sucese now leads the NCAA in assists with eight. He, along with linemate Brandon Biro, has combined for a large part of Penn State’s explosive offense.
Gadowsky doesn't believe line combinations have been a problem. He noted that Friday’s loss to Alaska-Fairbanks did, however, change the direction of where the coaching staff is headed in terms of preparation. He added that they cannot look past the Robert Morris matchup this week. If they do, they will see Cole Caufield and the dominating Wisconsin Badgers looming.
Too often did the Nittany Lions fail to learn from their mistakes. This season, many are calling it a “do or die” year. A majority of their team is still intact from a year ago. However, after dominating the first game of a series, the Nittany Lions seemingly always come up short in the second.
If Penn State wants to take its next step as a program, losses like the one to Alaska-Fairbanks have been deemed unacceptable by the coaching staff. While the players seem to be responding well to the upsetting performance, their mentality Friday night versus Robert Morris will say a lot about their ability to bounce back.
The game will be at 7:05 p.m. at Pegula Ice Arena. Stay locked to CommRadio for all things PSU and Big Ten Hockey.
Prediction: Penn State 5, Robert Morris 1
Kyle Cannillo is a sophomore studying broadcast journalism. To contact him please email firstname.lastname@example.org.