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Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Head Into Home Opener At Solid 2-2

by on October 16, 2017 11:50 AM

Penn State hockey finds itself at 2-2 on the year following a 6-3 loss on the road to Minnesota on Sunday night. 

While the Nittany Lions' most recent game might suggest otherwise, Penn State finds itself entering its home opening series against AIC in pretty good shape after a tough two weeks on the road.

To catch you up to speed, consider this.

Penn State lost by a goal in the season opener to a Clarkson team that would shutout Michigan the very next night. The following evening the Nittany Lions made the short drive farther north to face St Lawrence and win with relative ease. The same St Lawrence team that would travel to North Dakota this past weekend and fall 2-1 in the opening night of the series.

Then it was on to Minnesota. For perspective Penn State has only won on the big sheet of ice once prior, and had only beaten the Gophers four times through 17 attempts.

Friday night the Nittany Lions won with relative ease 3-1, picking up a crucial early season victory. Sunday afternoon the hosts responded with a two-goal first period and eased their way to that final 6-3 margin.

So what to make of it?

The opening four games were about what you could expect considering the opponents. Penn State looked capable, but not without its flaws and the Nittany Lions at the end of the day, managed a road split against a team it rarely beats, let alone on the road. Penn State has gotten early scoring from Denis Smirnov and Andrew Sturtz while Peyton Jones has made more than his fair share of big saves in goal.

Moving forward the challenge will be what it always has been: consistency. That and getting healthy contributions from injured freshman Evan Barratt and potentially injured (was scratched twice this weekend) Kevin Kerr will be key in the immediate future.

The good news for Penn State is that after a tough road trip to start the season the Nittany Lions will play their next six at home. Then it will be seven of nine on the road before the final third of the year starting in early January after nearly an entire month off.

But that is a long time for now, and right now the Nittany Lions are preparing for a banner raising this Thursday. And after the first two weeks of the season, they ought to feel pretty good about where they've been, and where they stand right now.

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