Series Preview: Ohio State
Thirteenth-ranked Penn State (12-7-3, 5-4-3-2 Big Ten) will be visited by No. 6 Ohio State (14-4-4, 7-4-1 Big Ten) this weekend to close out the Nittany Lions’ five-game homestand. The puck drops on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Only one win away from their 50th in Pegula Ice Arena, and with a 10-game unbeaten streak on the line, the Nittany Lions will look to rely on their NCAA-leading 4.09 goals-per-game to take down the Buckeyes.
Penn State is just one game removed from a hat-trick performance by sophomore Nate Sucese and have scored four or more goals in five of their last six games, including nine goals over the last two matchups with Ohio State to start the streak.
There are few teams that would be able to stop such a blistering offense in college hockey, but Ohio State’s fourth-best defense in the NCAA (2.05 goals-per-game) will put up a fight.
The Buckeyes have won six straight since losing 4-0 to Penn State on Dec. 2 to keep their second-place standing in the Big Ten by just two points. With a 9-1-1 record on the road this season, the Buckeyes will look to get revenge on the Nittany Lions as well as solidify their position in the conference.
Leading Penn State offensively is junior forward Andrew Sturtz with 28 points (tied for 7th in NCAA). Sturtz and Sucese are tied at 10 for the most goals scored by the Nittany Lions this season.
Their counterparts on the ice are led by sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski who is tied for third in the country with 29 points entering the series. He is the only Buckeye with double-digit goals at 10.
Between the posts for Ohio State will likely be redshirt junior Sean Romeo. In 20 appearances this season, Romeo has saved 92.7 percent of shots on him and has allowed only 1.94 goals per game, tied for seventh in the country.
Sophomore Peyton Jones will likely perform the goaltending duties for the Nittany Lions. Despite a shaky start to the season, Jones has an 89.8 percent save percentage and allows 2.95 goals per game. Last time he saw the Buckeyes, Jones shut them out on 33 saves.
Special teams-wise, Penn State holds the advantage in this series. The Nittany Lions have killed 33-of-35 (94.3 percent) of penalties against them during their unbeaten streak. Over the last ten games, Penn State leads the nation in penalty kill and holds 10th in the nation (3rd Big Ten) with 86.3 over the course of the season.
Penn State has also had success on the power-play this season, converting at a 21.6 percent clip, good for third in the conference and 15th in the NCAA. The Nittany Lions have scored one goal with man-advantage in five straight games.
The Buckeyes’ have had more season-long success on the penalty kill than Penn State with 91.9 percent success rate, the best in the nation. The team’s man-advantage play isn’t quite as impressive as it is only good for 37th in the nation with a 17.98 percent conversion rate on 89 attempts.
This series has a lot on the line for both teams and looks to be a hard-fought pair of contests.
Tommy Butler is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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