Penn State men’s hockey is back on track to play this upcoming weekend at Notre Dame after COVID-19 issues sidelined the program for a stretch dating back to early February. A program spokesperson confirmed those plans to StateCollege.com on Monday.
Penn State’s previously scheduled series against Michigan and Ohio State were both postponed early in the program’s COVID issues. Over the past two weeks series against Minnesota and Arizona State were both canceled outright with no intention to reschedule according to the conference announcement at the time.
As the season winds down and the conference tournament approaches on March 14, it seems increasingly unlikely that the series against Michigan or Ohio State will actually end up being rescheduled.
However neither the Big Ten nor Penn State has not yet officially announced this.
Penn State enters the Friday/Saturday series having not played competitively in just over a month, the Nittany Lions sit at 9-9 on the year having last played – fittingly – against the Irish, falling 3-2 in overtime after winning a 2-1 overtime contest the previous night.
As far as the Nittany Lions’ postseason chance, the already unlikely at-large bid appears all but gone given the shortened scheduled and an otherwise up-and-down year. In turn Penn State will look to the three-day Big Ten Tournament as its ticket to the dance. The Nittany Lions won the tournament in 2017 under the same format.
The Big Ten plans on returning to the multiple weekend format in the future. This year’s tournament will be played in South Bend as Notre Dame acting as the hosts. Per a previous report, Penn State had bid for the honor but was not selected, reportedly for location based reasons farther away from the rest of the conference’s hockey footprint.
Unfortunately for a handful of senior Penn State players, the confluence of postponements and cancelations means that they may not play at Pegula Ice Arena again. Although given NCAA rulings around the COVID-19 pandemic this year of eligibility does not count, in turn the door remains open for the possibility of a return for Penn State’s seniors.