The Nittany Lions are heading to Detroit this weekend for the Big Ten Tournament that could make or break their NCAA tournament chances. No. 15 Penn State (21-11-2, 10-9-1 B1G) landed as a disappointing No. 4 seed (out of six teams) after an extremely fast start to the season, and will face No. 5 Michigan Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena. With a vital first-round game against Michigan on the horizon, we wanted to look back at Penn State’s conference tournament history.
The Big Ten hockey tournament has only been around for three years and has featured a new champion every year (Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin). Although there has been much parody among the winners, the Nittany Lions have consistently played poorly in previous tournaments. Not only has Penn State never won the tournament, it has never reached the championship game; let’s hope this year is different.
In the program’s second year of existence, the Nittany Lions posted an 8-26-2 record and matched up against Michigan in the first round; a game they would eventually win 2-1 in double overtime. Penn State’s season came to an end in the semifinal game, as it lost to No. 6 Wisconsin 2-1.
Penn State improved significantly from the previous season and headed into the Big Ten tournament with a record of 18-14-4. However, the Nittany Lions fell to Ohio State 3-1 in the first round.
Last season the Nittany Lions showed much promise and potentially making the NCAA tournament seemed viable as they hovered around 14-17 in the national rankings. Penn State (21-13-4) defeated Wisconsin 5-2 in the first round and advanced to face the top-seeded Wolverines in the semifinals. The Nittany Lions lost all four games against Michigan during the regular season, and this matchup was no different. The Wolverines won 7-2 in dominating fashion and Penn State’s season ended with no NCAA appearance.
With all of that said, Penn State is due for a conference championship — and it has the team to make it happen this year.