They got the monkey off their back, but Penn State hockey has only just started to get going.
After picking up the all important program first win in Big Ten Conference play last weekend the Nittany Lions were in good spirits this past week at practice.
There is little doubt the victory over No. 10 Michigan was a welcome sight for a coaching staff and team working hard to find its place in a stacked conference. The win a small sign that the Nittany Lions had not in fact bitten off more than they could chew.
“We’ve been together a long time, so we’re very confident in what we do,” Gadowsky said of his coaching staff. “We’ve had a lot of success with it when you do win a game, especially against a Michigan, in the fashion that we did, you feel more comfortable of the team buy-in to what you’re doing, for sure.”
“Everybody felt really good about how they were playing,” Gadowsky said. “For where we are in our program, to come close against a Boston College, and come close against a Minnesota and two teams, Lowell and Union, that went to the Frozen Four, you certainly — everybody knows we’re going in the right direction — but to actually get over the hump is an additional validation of what we’re doing.”
Returning back home for a two-game series against Michigan State this weekend, Penn State will have a chance to pick up another, if not two, conference victories to follow up the dramatic weekend last week.
The series marks the start of the second half of Big Ten play for Penn State. Following this weekend’s series, the Nittany Lions will visit Michigan (Feb. 21-22) and Minnesota (Feb. 28, March 1) before closing the regular season at home versus Wisconsin (March 7-8) and Ohio State (March 14-15).
So for Penn State, while time is in fact limited, the rush to pick up that first conference victory is no more. Now the Nittany Lions can focus on building momentum in a conference stacked with talented and ranked teams.
The good news for Penn State? The Nittany Lions are 1-3-0 all-time against the Spartans dating back to the 2012-13 season. Penn State is 0-2-0 against Michigan State in 2013-14 though, falling to the Spartans by 3-0 and 3-2 scores on Jan. 17-18, respectively. Forwards Taylor Holstrom and Eric Scheid scored in the one-goal setback on Jan. 18. So while the Spartans have had Penn State's number this year, the Nittany Lions already know they can beat them.
Sophomore goaltender Matthew Skoff earned Big Ten Second Star of the Week honors after his shutout performance against Michigan Feb. 8. Who will start on Friday night is unknown, but both Skoff and freshman Eamon McAdam should both see time this weekend.
Friday’s game will air live on BTN, BTN2go.com, GoPSUsports.com and the Penn State Sports Network at 6:30 p.m. For Saturday, puck drop is set for 3:30 p.m. on ESPNews, WatchESPN, GoPSUsports.com and WRSC 103.1.