Series Preview: Men’s Hockey vs. Ohio State
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Junior / Broadcast Journalism Minoring in History
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.
Freshman / Broadcast Journalism