It’s been well-documented that year two for Penn State as a Division I hockey program hasn’t gone according to plan. The Nittany Lions have struggled mightily this season as they’re 4-10-1 overall and sit last in the Big Ten Conference. It’s safe to say it’s been a disappointment thus far given the talent on the roster.
Penn State is coming off of a 8-2 thumping at the hands of Boston College two weeks ago at the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh. It doesn’t get any easier for Guy Gadowsky and his squad as the Lions’ are set to host No. 1 Minnesota this Sunday (12th) and Monday (13th).
Besides a lone Jan. 25th contest with Boston College, the remainder of Penn State’s schedule is against the Big Ten conference. I’m trying to remain positive about this team, but they may not win another game all season long. They’ll have a good chance against Ohio State and Michigan State, but I’ve seen nothing from this team thus far that shows they can beat the likes of Minnesota and Michigan.
Penn State’s problems this season have come in generating offense. The Lions’ currently sit 46th out of 59 NCAA teams in average goals per game (2.47). Eric Scheid leads the team in scoring with 13 points (8 goals and 5 assists). They haven’t fared much better in goals against either. Penn State sits 54th in the country giving up on average 3.93 goals per game.
The one positive about PSU this season is their power play is operating at 21.6%, which is good for 13th in the country. With that being said, they’re the 10th most penalized team in college hockey.
The Gophers are coming off of a 6-2 victory over RPI last Saturday, in which Kyle Rau notched two goals and Travis Boyd recorded three points. Minnesota is college hockey’s number one team and currently sit 13-2-3 overall and 3-0-1 in conference play.
Don Lucia’s squad is the number two scoring team in the country behind Boston College averaging 3.94 goals per game. They also don’t give up many goals (2.11), which is good for seventh in the land.
Sam Warning’s 21 points (5 goals, 16 assists) in 18 games paces the way for the Gophers. Minnesota is dynamic offensive team that is littered with NHL draft picks. Including Warning, nine Gophers are in double-digit scoring.
If Penn State struggled containing Boston College sans Steve Santini and Ian McCoshen who were at the World Juniors, then I would expect them to struggle with Minnesota. The Gophers are a nightmare match up for any team in the country. With Kyle Rau, Taylor Cammarata, and Hudson Fasching, Minnesota possess three of the country’s most dynamic offensive players.
I’m going to be interested to see which Minnesota line Tommy Olczyk-Ricky DeRosa-Zach Saar will match up against. I would assume he would pair them against the Gophers top line of Cammarata-Rau-Fasching. Keeping Minnesota’s top line in check will be crucial.
Overall, I don’t expect Penn State to come away with any wins, but stranger things have happen. If PSU can keep Minnesota’s offense in check and get all-world goal tending from either Skoff or McAdam they’ll have a chance. The bottom line is the Gophers are just too talented and a more experienced club than Penn State.