No. 19 Penn State men’s hockey will be without its most explosive source of offense for the foreseeable future due to injury.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky announced dynamic winger Denis Smirnov will not play “for a few weeks” due to an undisclosed injury during his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon. Gadowsky said Smirnov was suffering from an illness after last Friday’s loss to Mercyhurst, but did not confirm this illness will keep his star man out of the lineup until Monday.
The loss is a big one for the Nittany Lions, as they will miss their leading scorer from the 2016-17 campaign for this weekend’s series against No. 6 Notre Dame. Smirnov may also miss the team’s series against Arizona State and Michigan State in the coming weeks.
Last season, the Russian winger led all freshmen in the nation with 47 points in 39 games played. His extremely strong season led the Colorado Avalanche to draft him in the sixth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. This season, Smirnov has continued to produce offensively, scoring five goals and six assists in eight games.
His total of eleven points is tied with freshman Cole Hults (two goals, nine assists) for second on the team; only junior Andrew Sturtz (six goals, seven assists) has more.
Regardless, No. 19 Penn State will travel to South Bend for a massive conference series against No. 6 Notre Dame. Friday night’s game will begin at 7:35 p.m., while the puck will drop at 7:05 p.m. for Saturday’s game. The second game of the series will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network.