Series Preview: Men’s Hockey vs. Notre Dame
Host Jeremy Ganes and analysts Jacob Cheris and Jordan Mansberger preview Penn State's key series against Notre Dame.
The battle between Penn State and Notre Dame this weekend will be much more than a two game series. For the Fighting Irish, it’s a last ditch effort to turn their season around and catch Ohio State in the Big Ten standings. For the Nittany Lions, it’s a chance at redemption against a team who ended their 2018-19 season in the Big Ten championship game. Adding to that, Saturday will be Penn State’s inaugural “White Rush” game, in which it will wear football inspired jerseys.
In a season that has seen the majority of Big Ten teams show major inconsistency, this series could go either way and have huge implications throughout the conference and national picture. Penn State currently sits at No. 6 in the PairWise comparison, giving it a certain amount of comfort when talking about an NCAA Tournament berth. That being said, coach Guy Gadowsky’s team needs to find consistency before the postseason. In their last two series, the Nittany Lions have gone 1-2-1. The situation is eerily reminiscent of the team’s late season slump last season, which caused them to fall to the cusp of an at-large berth, and eventually miss the tournament.
Notre Dame, on the other hand, has all but kissed its hope of an at-large berth goodbye. The team hasn’t strung together two consecutive wins since its second week of conference play, back in early November, and has only recorded three wins since then. Right now, The Fighting Irish are looking for confidence and momentum in this last month of regular season play in hopes of pulling out as repeat Big Ten champions.
Players to Watch
Experience has prevailed on the scoresheet for Notre Dame this season, with four of its top five scorers being upperclassmen, three of which are seniors. The Irish’s leader in points, however, is sophomore Alex Steeves, who has tallied nine goals and 12 assists this season. He’s gotten four of those nine in his last four games, so look for him to be a big impact this weekend.
The biggest factor for the Irish might just be their netminder, Cale Morris. He has made a point of being consistently inconsistent this season. That being said, Morris has had Penn State’s number for the past few years, excluding the 9-1 game last season when the Nittany Lion offensive juggernaut was in prime form.
On Penn State’s side of the puck, Hobey Baker nominee and goaltender Peyton Jones will also play a large role. Much like the entirety of the Nittany Lion roster, he will need to get back to his midseason form to come out of the weekend with a sweep. The past two weekends have not treated Jones well; he allowed four or more goals in two of his three appearances. While this can partially be attributed to sloppy defensive play, Jones will be looking to get back on track in this rivalry series.
Offensively, Scoring leaders Nate Sucese, Alex Limoges and Evan Barratt will look to push the Nittany Lions through the weekend with help from high-scoring defenseman, Cole Hults.
This series, whatever the outcome, will send a message to the rest of the Big Ten, and both teams will be looking to take advantage of that.
Prediction: 1-1 split
Game 1: Penn State 4, Notre Dame 3
Game 2: Notre Dame 3, Penn State 2
Nathan Pullen is a sophomore majoring in public relations. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Freshman / Journalism
Nathan Pullen is a sophomore from Fauquier County, VA, about forty minutes west of DC. He cohosts a talkshow through CommRadio, writes for College Hockey News, and will be interning with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox this summer.
Senior / Journalism
Sophomore / Broadcast Journalism
Jacob is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism from Gaithersburg, Maryland. He is an aspiring sports play by play broadcaster or sports analyst. Jacob is a huge Washington Capitals fan and has a great passion for hockey. He played all throughout high school and still plays in the Student Hockey League. He is also a member of Penn State Sports Night. His favorite play by play broadcasters are Mike “Doc” Emrick of NBC Sports and Joe Beninati of NBC Sports Washington. Jacob is looking to expand his love for hockey and use it across all sports.
Sophomore / Broadcast Journalism
Jordan Mansberger is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in marketing.