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Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Head Into Crucial Weekend Against Michigan State

by on February 16, 2018 12:00 PM

Penn State hockey heads into a crucial weekend Friday night in East Lansing looking to achieve a very simple goal.


The Nittany Lions as it stands right now are on the outside looking in when it comes to the postseason tournament, but with four games left in the regular season and the Big Ten Tournament ahead, Penn State is far from out of the picture.

It will, however, mean getting over a hump, Penn State has been playing fairly consistent hockey in the previous weeks but has struggled to finish the job. A few third period leads evaporating, a few last gasps coming up just short. The Nittany Lions aren't playing bad hockey, they just haven't won a few games they probably should have.

And so Penn State finds itself behind the eight ball ranked 17th in the PairWise and four points behind home ice advantage for the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. 

The good news, there is still time to make up lost ground. Penn State will face a completely beatable Michigan State team this weekend before heading home to close out the regular season against Minnesota. PairWise math can be a little fuzzy at times with so many moving parts, but if the Nittany Lions can win two out of the final three heading into the conference tournament the Nittany Lions will have done as much as they can do.

Beyond that a first round victory in the Big Ten Tournament, and anything after that, will only help the cause.

“We realize what’s at hand here,” defenseman Trevor Hamilton said. “It doesn’t matter if we were playing Notre Dame, Michigan State or Ohio State. It doesn’t matter who we play. I think we all have the same mentality that going in there we need two wins.”

It also doesn't hurt matters any that Penn State is playing some pretty good hockey. The Nittany Lions did everything they could to crack No. 2 Notre Dame and nearly did just that. It stands to reason that if Penn State continues to play like it did against the Irish and one of the nation's best defenses, the goals, and the victories, will come against nearly any other team.

“I thought, as far as chances go, we actually had one of our better weekends of the year,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “We faced a goaltender who was phenomenal, but I thought we generated a lot of chances.”

The puck is scheduled for a 6:30 EST drop on Friday and 5:00 EST on Saturday. Both games will be carried live on the Big Ten Network.

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