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Penn State Hockey: B1G Clash Arrives As No. 15 Penn State Host No. 6 Michigan

by on January 28, 2016 2:00 PM

You can say without any amount of hyperbole that this is the biggest game in Penn State hockey's short but eventful history.

The Wolverines come into Thursday's game ranked No. 6 in the nation with an offense that is just one of a handful more explosive than the Nittany Lions' own goal-happy attack. Penn State, now No. 15 in college hockey has won at home over the past two seasons more than any other team aside from North Dakota.

Insert something here about unstoppable forces.

Less dramatically it is a game that will help set the pace for the early Big Ten conference title race. Minnesota sits atop the standings with 24 points while Michigan and Penn State face-off tied with 18 points each. With the bottom three teams in the conference holding no more than 9 points, the marathon to the title has become a three horse race.

Guy Gadowsky won't pick his favorite game against Michigan. In his defense with six wins under his belt there are a few to choose from. Last second game tying goals. Double overtime victories. Blowouts. Road upsets. Penn State has effectively ended Michigan's postseason chances for two straight seasons.

But now the teams are on equal footing. 

“It’s not a matter of changing,” coach Guy Gadowsky said of adjusting to their opponent’s tempo. “But we certainly are aware of the fact that often we talk about controlling our tempo to have teams match us. I’d be lying if we said … ‘The goal is to make Michigan match us.’ We understand how they play.”

And the Wolverines play with pace. It's fast skating and goal scoring. Michigan may just have the best team Penn State has seen out of Ann Arbor since joining the Big Ten, and in turn there is little room to think this game will be anything like the last eight between these two teams.

Dramatic? Without a doubt. But certainly not predictable.

“We have a really big game Thursday,” Gadowsky said. “That’s all we’re talking about right now.”



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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