Hockey Preview: Penn State vs. Ohio State
ComRadio's own John Petrolias, Alissa Devine and Bria Donnely preview thie Nittany Lions' final home series of the season. Tune into ComRadio for coverage of the whole weekend.
The season’s final chapter at Pegula Ice Arena will be written this weekend as No. 15 Penn State (8-5-1, 18-8-4) welcomes the Ohio State Buckeyes (3-7-2, 8-16-2) to Hockey Valley for a pair of games. A Big Ten title may be out of the question as the Nittany Lions currently sit six points behind Michigan and seven behind Minnesota in the standings, but there will undoubtedly be plenty of motivation in the locker room come Friday night.
Eight seniors will take the ice for the last time at Pegula, and they would like nothing more than to cap off a strong season with a sweep over the inconsistent Buckeyes. While THON weekend will take most of the spotlight, these seniors deserve major recognition as being the first four-year varsity Division I class to play at Penn State. These eight men have certainly been a huge impact on helping to bring this team up from nothing and turning it into a hockey hotspot.
The Blue and White have won three straight contests coming off a sweep over Michigan State in East Lansing in which they cruised to a 6-1 victory on Friday but had to sweat out a shootout win in a 2-2 game on Saturday. The Buckeyes hit the road for the first time in a month following two one-goal losses (one in OT) to Minnesota last weekend.
These two teams split the last time they faced each other, with Penn State earning a 3-2 OT win on Jan. 22 off a late goal by Kevin Kerr with five minutes to play in regulation and a game-winning goal from Alec Marsh in the extra period. The Buckeyes bounced back by way of a 5-1 thrashing the next night in which five different players scored.
The Nittany Lions will lean heavily on their offense, ranking fifth in the nation at 3.87 goals per game as well as leading the nation in shots per game at 42.9. Seniors Eric Scheid, Luke Juha, and Tommy Olczyk all tallied goals against the Spartans and they are looking to add to the resume of a senior class that already holds the record for most points in a season (116- 45 G, 71 A).
Freshmen have made their impact all year as well, currently sitting at third in the NCAA with 1.37 goals per game. Chase Berger, Andrew Sturtz, and Marsh are three of the top four point scorers on this team and they are looking to add to their already-impressive 41 goals on the year.
Head Coach Guy Gadowsky will likely continue the wildly successful goaltender roulette that has occurred all year, with Matt Skoff and Eamon McAdam each getting starts. One possible wrinkle to the strategy could be starting McAdam in the first game in order to ensure Skoff, a senior, a start in his final home game.
The Buckeyes will counter with a couple potent scorers of their own, as Nick Schilkey has scored 13 goals and David Gust leads the team with 27 points. The special teams are efficient as well, scoring at a 21.5 percent clip on the power play and killing 85.3 percent of their own mistakes.
Christian Frey is the probable starter in net, as he has started the last six and 12 of the last 14. He is 5-9-1 with a 2.53 GAA and a .922 save percentage.
Friday’s game will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network with puck drop at 6:30 p.m. Saturday’s start is set for 3:00 p.m. and the senior festivities will begin at 2:45. ESPNU will carry Saturday’s action and you can also listen live to both games on ComRadio.
Tom Shively is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @t_shives.