Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions To Face Union In First Ever NCAA Tournament Game
Penn State hockey is headed to Cincinnati for its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. The bracket was announced on Sunday afternoon less than 13 hours following the Nittany Lions' 2-1 double-overtime victory against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament title game.
So while there were plenty of cheers, there was even more coffee.
The Nittany Lions will face Union next Saturday for a 4:30 puck drop in the Midwest Regional. Penn State the No. 3 seed against No. 2 Union, the winner of that game facing the winner of the overall No. 1 seed Denver and Michigan Tech.
On the year Union is currently ranked No.6 in the most recent USCHO.com poll and No.8 in the PairWise, just one spot ahead of the Nittany Lions. Historically Penn State has faced Union on four occasions, losing all four games albeit four competitive contests in the earliest years of Penn State hockey's Division I existence. Union fell 4-1 to Cornell in the ECAC Tournament on Friday night.
Sunday's news comes following a taxing week in the Big Ten Tournament for Penn State. The Nittany Lions playing in back-to-back double overtime games against the top two seeds in the tournament. Friday night's victory against Minnesota clinching an NCAA Tournament bid leaving Penn State with tired legs and far less to play for than a Wisconsin fighting for its postseason life.
"We honestly didn't know if we'd get anything out of them at all [on Saturday]," Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said on Sunday. "What they did was tremendous and it comes from them. It comes from the locker room, it comes from how they feel about one another and how they feel about Penn State University, because there's nothing coaches can say to get them motivated at that point."
"We talked about it amongst the coaches and we didn't know what was going to happen. We could've been down 4-0 after 10 minutes and we wouldn't have been shocked. It was an emotionally and very physically draining game on Friday night."
The good news for the Nittany Lions is that they missed the Friday start to the tournament, an extra day to rest legs that have played was amounts to four games of hockey in three days.
So it's hard to imagine that anything could be harder than that.
The moment Penn State found out its destination. Also, four overtimes worth of hockey. pic.twitter.com/ioV6eex8M2
— Ben Jones (@Ben_Jones88) March 19, 2017