Series preview: No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Penn State

Story posted November 23, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by Nathan Pullen

Penn State hockey continued its high scoring trend last weekend in its split with then 16th-ranked Michigan. Totalling 11 goals between the two games, the Nittany Lions found goals from six different forwards. Michigan showed them that an onslaught of goals isn’t always enough, though, as they beat Penn State 6-4 in Friday night’s tilt and took them to overtime on Saturday before succumbing to the Nittany Lions in the first 10 seconds of the overtime period.

Guy Gadowski will take the team out to Columbus, Ohio to face Big Ten powerhouse, Ohio State, for what might just be the best series in college hockey this weekend. Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in the USCHO preseason rankings but has since fallen to an 8-3-1 record, falling to No. 5 in the USCHO rankings and second in the Big Ten Conference.

The top 10 series will showcase two vastly contrasting teams: Ohio State has earned shutouts in four of its last six games while Penn State has allowed 29 goals in its last six games.

Both teams are top tier in the NCAA, but for very different reasons.

Penn State leads the NCAA in goals per game with 5.73 while coming in nearly last in goals against average with 3.45. They play a run-and-gun game most nights and rely primarily on their high scoring potential to win them the game.

On Ohio State’s side of the stat line, they keep both their goals for and goals against averages low, and count on their defense and goalies to keep them at the top end of the rankings. Their 1.83 goals against per game average places them third nationally in that statistic, and first in the Big Ten. This has allowed their relatively low 2.42 goals per game average to suffice for an 8-3-1 record for the Buckeyes.

Gadowski will most likely look for his squad to tighten up on the defensive end of the ice to stop the low scoring Buckeyes while Ohio State Coach Steve Rohlik will look to expose Penn State’s low ranked defense.

Players To Watch

Ohio State - Sasha Larocque (D) and Tommy Parran (D)

The Buckeyes’ top defensive pairing will likely be matched up against Gadowki’s high power offensive line of Evan Barratt, Alex Limoges and Liam Folkes, who have combined for 55 points so far this season. Larocque, a senior captain, has a plus-two rating and two assists on the season while his partner, Parran, has remained relatively quiet this season with no points and a rating of plus-one. Regardless, they will play a large role in the defensive push against the Nittany Lions.

Penn State - Peyton Jones (G) and Chris Funkey (G)

Jones and Funkey have split the season evenly so far; Jones has played six games and Funkey has played five with each goaltender losing a game. Both have struggled to some extent this season statistically. Funkey in ranked 61st in save percentage with jones a few spots above him at 48th. Both goalies also fall outside of the top thirty in shots faced, meaning that the amount of shots that they’re seeing each night in net is nothing outrageous. Up to this point, Penn State has been able to rely solely on their abundance of goals to win them games, but last weeks series against Michigan series may have served as an eye-opener to not only the team but also the goaltenders. It will be worth watching how the goalies bounce back from a high scoring weekend split.

 

 

Nathan Pullen is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email nap236@psu.edu.