Series Preview: Men’s Hockey vs. Ohio State

Audio/Story posted February 6, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Jacob Cheris

Jacob Cheris, Jordan Hession and Logan Bourandas preview Penn State’s upcoming series against Ohio State: 

The No.12 Penn State Nittany Lions travel to Columbus to battle the No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes. Penn State is coming off of a split against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Buckeyes are also coming off of a split against the Michigan Wolverines. This is a big series for both teams as they are tied for first in the Big 10 with 29 points. Both teams are 9-7-2 in conference play.

Penn State has struggled as of late, dropping three out of its last four games. Two of those have gone past regulation, which counts as a tie, and resulted in the Nittany Lions getting one point. They need all the points possible to get back to first place in the Big 10.

Penn State’s offense hasn’t been producing at a high level as of late, particularly on the power play. Since Jan. 11 Penn State’s power play has gone 2-for-17, but with senior captain Brandon Biro back in the lineup, he should bolster the power play unit and add speed.

Penn State also hasn’t converted on many scoring opportunities at even strength either, but it has put a lot of shots on net. That’s going to be key against a defensive Ohio State squad.

The bigger concern is Penn State’s defensive play. Constant turnovers and poor puck management, especially in the defensive zone, have been costly to the Nittany Lions. Junior defenseman Clayton Phillips has not returned to the lineup since getting hurt against Michigan State and his return is uncertain.

The story of this series is going to be goaltending. Penn State goaltender Peyton Jones and Ohio State goaltender Tommy Nappier both have had incredible seasons, but both have declined since the start of the new year. Nappier has a 2.75 goals against average and a .912 save percentage, while Jones has a 3.01 goals against and a .919 save percentage.

The Buckeyes have been inconsistent lately. Before the Michigan series they were swept in a lopsided series against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, a team that hasn’t had a lot of success this season but is starting to heat up. Star forward Tanner Laczynski has only one point in his last four games, yet leads the team with 26 points. Sophomore forward Gustaf Westlund leads the team in goals (12), but is scoreless in his last four games.

Despite the lack of offense, Ohio State's defense has been solid compared to Penn State. Ohio State allows only 29 shots per game and its play in the neutral zone has been stellar with their trap defense which forces opposing players into the boards.

Players to watch in this series are Buckeyes forward Quinn Preston and Penn State forward Denis Smirnov. According to head coach Guy Gadowsky in an interview with Media Notebook, Smirnov is likely to return to the lineup this weekend from injury. Preston has seven points in his last five games, while Smirnov has 17 points this season.

If Penn State is going to come out on top, it needs to get the Buckeyes on the transition game. That means moving the puck from north-south quickly and catching Ohio State on line changes to generate odd man rushes. Ohio State has to neutralize the speed of Biro and other players like forwards Nate Sucese and Liam Folks. It all begins at 7 p.m. on Friday at The Schottenstein Center in Columbus, OH.

Prediction: Split

Game 1: Penn State 3, Ohio State 2

Game 2: Ohio State 5, Penn State 3


Jacob Cheris is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email

About the Contributors

Jordan Hession's photo

Jordan Hession

Junior / Broadcast Journalism Minoring in History

Jordan Hession is a transfer junior from Annapolis, Maryland majoring in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in History. As a member of the sports staff on PSU Comm Radio, Jordan has written articles highlighting PSU Athletic teams, has been featured on several talk shows covering sporting contests and has broadcasted play by play State College High School sports. Jordan is the creator, producer, and host of the NHL preview podcast alongside Grant Commerer and Jacob Cheris. Jordan has a love for all sports, especially baseball and ice hockey. He hopes to help expand the interest of ice hockey globally. Jordan is interested in becoming a sports talk radio personality, a sports anchor, or a play by play broadcaster/ public address announcer for a minor or professional team. To contact Jordan email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Jacob Cheris's photo

Jacob Cheris

Sophomore / Broadcast Journalism

Jacob is a sophomore 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, where he analyzes hockey and other sports on YouTube. 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.

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Logan Bourandas

Freshman / Broadcast Journalism

Logan Bourandas is a broadcast journalism major from Long Island, NY. He is a sports writer, news writer, sports broadcaster and talk show host for CommRadio. He got his start as the Station Manager for his high school radio station WPOB in his hometown of Plainview, NY where he hosted numerous radio shows and was involved in sports broadcasts. You can contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)