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Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Using Momentum In Offensive Attack

by on January 21, 2015 4:00 PM

Momentum is everything. It may not make your shots for you, it may not catch the passes or make the saves, but if capitalized on it can put even the best teams on their heels.

Penn State hockey still has work to do if the Nittany Lions want to make something out of this season, but it seems clear so far that they've learned how to take advantage of momentum swings.

In fact, it's nearly half the offense.

So far this season Penn State hockey has scored a solid 70 goals. Thirty-four of those, have come in short four minute bursts of back-to-back goals. That's scoring a second goal in under four minutes of play after the first goal found its way to the back of the net.

This has happened 18 times this season -- Penn State picking up one goal and turning that momentum into a second tally. On average, the Nittany Lions have scored those back-to-back goals in just a span of 1:54. In Penn State's commanding win over Ohio State just over week ago the Nittany Lions scored two goals in just 59 seconds turning a 3-2 lead into a 5-2 margin.

It's moments like that which can change a close contest into a comfortable victory. If nothing else, it can turn a losing effort into a chance to win. In the previous game against Ohio State, Penn State scored twice in just over a minute to turn a 4-0 Buckeye into a 4-2 deficit with plenty of time to spare. Penn State would complete the comeback tying the game with seconds left in regulation before falling in overtime. Momentum was everything in that game.

So it's that kind of attack that can be a deadly force if you can manage it.

How does it come to pass? Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky isn't too sure.

"I can tell you, I do know that the Roar Zone (Penn State student section) has to take some credit for that," Gadowsky said this week. "We gain so much momentum from them and I think that it's easy to gain extra energy when you do score a goal and the atmosphere is nuts. That's a real thing. That has to be one factor.

"I think a lot of coaches and players in other sports talk about momentum as a real thing you try to harness and be aware of. It certainly goes the other way. There have been some occasions where we've given up goals after we've scored. But momentum can come after a lot of things, goals, if there has been a big hit or a penalty killl, that's another thing you want to be aware of, a big save. And I think all coaches believe in momentum and try to have it work on their side. But it can be tough to have that formula."

So far Penn State has found a lot of that formula with the forward line of Casey Bailey, David Goodwin and Taylor Holstrom. The trio accounts for 31 of Penn State's 70 overall goals and a bucket load of assists to boot.

Bailey continues to add to his total, taking over the Division I goal lead this past weekend for brief moment before Daniel Ciampini took back the crown with a total of 17 goals for Union. Holstrom is only 5 assists from tying the national lead in that category. Goodwin has chipped in 10 goals of his own making this a solid season for a player who jokingly refers to himself as "the other guy" on Penn State's top line.

Whatever it is, it's working for Penn State. This hockey program is only three years into a Division I journey and stands atop the Big Ten standings with just over a month remaining in the regular season. Penn State's ultimate goal is a slot in the NCAA tournament, but a Big Ten regular season title is nothing to laugh at either.

Penn State faces Northern Michigan this weekend for a two game series with an out-of-conference foe the Nittany Lions aren't overlooking. It's a chance to play and it's a chance to prove their worth.

"Every game is important when it comes down to the final rankings" team captain Patrick Koudys said this week. "Obviously we want to do well in the Big Ten but our interest is in the NCAA tournament. So every out of conference game counts, almost more than in conference."

So as Penn State looks for yet another win this season, remember not to blink after the Nittany Lions score a goal.

Because they'll probably score again real soon.

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