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Penn State Hockey: Road To Postseason Begins Tonight In East Lansing

by on February 24, 2017 12:30 PM

Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky summed it up earlier this week.

Good teams miss the tournament.

“To be in a position to make the tournament — it’s not a given,” Gadowsky said. “So for freshmen and sophomores to sit back and go, ‘Oh yeah, well we’ll learn the lesson, and we’ll apply it down the road.’ No. we’ve got an opportunity now, and we’ve got to take advantage of this now.”

Perhaps for the first time all year there is a sense of urgency from Gadowsky as he addressed the media earlier this week. With six games to play in the regular season Penn State sits at No. 11 in the PairWise, well positioned for a postseason bid, but farther from having one secure.

To be sure, Gadowsky's concern that his team is sitting back is more a hypothetical example rather than an actual concern. There are more indications than not that Penn State is eager to move past a heartbreaking loss to Minnesota. Even so the Nittany Lions' need for good results this weekend against Michigan State won't come without adequate effort. That won't happen without the right mindset.

In short there is work left to be done, and no time like the present to learn from close losses and "what if" moments.

“We understand where we are in terms of a national position and a position in the Big Ten, and that’s why learning from the experience Saturday is so important,” Gadowsky said. “We’re in a position now that we can make the tournament as an at-large team. That’s a really huge step for the program and our checklist.”

The good news for Penn State fans is that the Nittany Lions' schedule is favorable in the season's final stretch. Penn State took the Spartans' best punch at Pegula and still managed the sweep. Beyond that Wisconsin will head to State College off of what figures to be an emotional, Big Ten defining series against Minnesota. The Badgers also getting swept by Penn State just weeks ago. Then the show finishes up in Ann Arbor against a Michigan team that will likely put up a fight but has struggled on both ends of the ice all year.

So after coming out of the Minnesota/Ohio State gauntlet with just one win in eight games, Penn State closes out against three teams its 6-0 against this year.

But of course, wins you already have don't help you win games you still need.

“Does not matter,” Gadowsky said. “Where we are in the season right now, I think everybody understands that we have a really great opportunity that we have a possibility of making the tournament, either by winning the Big Tens or through an at-large, so the remaining games are all huge.”

Penn State's magic number is probably four games, four more wins and the Nittany Lions ought to feel good about their chances.

They can pick up the first of those tonight at 7:00 PM.

 



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