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Penn State Hockey: No. 10 Wolverines Set To Take On Nittany Lions Friday Night

by on February 07, 2014 10:30 AM

While the road has not been kind to the Nittany Lions in their first real season of Division I play, Penn State will get a chance to pick up conference win No.1 back at home at the Pegula Ice Arena on Friday night. The opponent for this weekend's series? The No. 10 ranked Michigan Wolverines.

The Wolverines stumbled in the early part of the new year going 0-4-1 from Dec. 11-Jan. 11, but will enter this weekend's two-game series unbeaten in their last four games (3-0-1). Michigan, which ranks seventh in the country in scoring defense (2.23), finished 1-0-1 against Wisconsin last weekend at Yost Ice Arena. While the Nittany Lions have faced some of the nation's top offenses all season, Michigan's defensive approach will be an interesting change of pace. The Wolverines are a serious scoring threat so the Nittany Lions will have to continue their strong play around the net.

Michigan Freshman JT Compher (9g, 12a), who played against Penn State last season as a member of the U.S. National Under-18 Team, leads Big Ten rookies and ranks sixth in the nation among newcomers with 0.95 points per game. Classmate Zach Nagelvoort ranks fourth in the country with a .936 save percentage and sixth in goals-against average (1.91).

Michigan's visit to Happy Valley marks the third Top 10 team to take the ice at Pegula Ice Arena and the eighth and ninth game against a ranked opponent the Nittany Lions have had at home.

Friday night’s game will be the first of four straight for the Nittany Lions at Pegula Ice Arena. After its series with Michigan, Penn State will host Michigan State Feb. 14-15 before hitting the road for its final two road trips (Michigan - Feb. 21-22, Minnesota - Feb. 28, March 1) of the regular season.

Unlike three other conference foes, Penn State and Michigan have never taken the ice together before setting up a historic first series between the two programs Friday and Saturday.

"I coached in the CCHA [Michigan's former conference] and I'm very familiar with them," Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said earlier this week. "We haven't faced them before, and there is always an unknown and excitement for that."

"Obviously, they're a top-10 ranked team in the nation again. This is the program that has had the most success of any program in college history. We know it, we respect that, but at the same time we're very hungry to play our game against them on our ice."

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