PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Know Your Enemy: No. 19 Penn State Men’s Hockey vs. No. 6 Notre Dame

No. 19 Penn State men’s hockey takes on No. 6 Notre Dame this weekend in a series that is undoubtedly the team’s biggest of the season thus far.

If Penn State can pick up at least one big victory, this series could be the spark to change the team’s fortunes. So far, the Nittany Lions are 5-5 through their first ten games, splitting each of their first five series. This will be the first time Penn State takes on Notre Dame since the Fighting Irish joined the Big Ten.

The General

One thing immediately stands out about Notre Dame’s hockey program: the Fighting Irish are really, really good.

Last season, Notre Dame made a run all the way to the Frozen Four while playing in Hockey East, a conference that includes perennial college hockey powerhouses like Boston University and Northwestern.

After finishing the regular season with a 21-11-5 record, Notre Dame beat Minnesota and UMass-Lowell, the two top seeds in the Northeast region, before losing to eventual national champion Denver in the Frozen Four.

Despite Notre Dame’s success last season, two of the Fighting Irish’s key men went pro over the summer. Leading scorer Anders Bjork scored 21 goals and added 31 assists in just 39 games played last year, but he skipped his final collegiate season to sign with the Boston Bruins.

Additionally, star goalie and team captain Cal Petersen also elected to forgo his final season of eligiblity in favor of signing a pro contract. The Buffalo Sabres draft pick elected to spurn Terry Pegula’s team in favor of the Los Angeles Kings. He finished last season with a 23-12-5 record and an impressive .926 save percentage.

Despite these subtractions, Notre Dame is still one of the deadliest teams in all of college hockey. The team is 6-3-1 in its first ten games as a Big Ten team, including a comfortable sweep of No. 16 Ohio State last weekend.

Up front, senior center Jake Evans has led the charge so far, recording four goals and 14 assists in the early stages of the season. He played alongside Cam Morrison and Colin Thiesen last weekend in Columbus; they have combined for 15 points through the team’s first ten games.

Lots of the Fighting Irish’s offense has come from the back line. Defensemen Jordan Gross and Bobby Nardella are each averaging at least a point per game through ten games; Gross has twelve points so far this year, while Nardella is not far behind with ten.

While the team’s top pairing of Justin Wade and Dennis Gilbert has not produced offensively yet, the duo makes up a strong shutdown pair.

In goal, Cale Morris has seen the majority of action this season and he has excelled in replacing Cal Petersen. His 2.22 goals-against average and .925 save percentage are both among the best in the Big Ten.

Notre Dame is also not afraid to trust its backup goaltender either; Dylan St. Cyr has seen action in four games so far this year, posting a .914 save percentage in those games.

Zeroing In

Despite losing Bjork and Petersen to the pros, this Notre Dame squad is still extremely strong. The forward group is deadly even without Bjork’s presence; it will be difficult for Guy Gadowsky’s squad to contain players like Jake Evans and Cam Morrison.

The offense that Bobby Nardella and Jordan Gross have produced from the back end will also be difficult to stop. However, the Fighting Irish have had a problem very familiar to Penn State: defensive struggles.

Notre Dame has given up 2.90 goals per game so far this year, including six in a surprising home loss to Nebraska-Omaha. That being said, the team has been able to shut down teams like Ohio State, so its defensive problems aren’t necessarily as severe as Penn State’s may be.

Last Meeting

The last meeting between Penn State and Notre Dame arguably changed the trajectory of Penn State’s hockey program. Andrew Sturtz’s goal in overtime ended a massive upset over a Notre Dame team that was ranked No. 3 in the country after a tie the night before.

After that series, Guy Gadowsky’s Nittany Lions went on to win 13 of their next 14 games en route to a program-first No. 1 ranking.

Prediction

Both of these teams’ defensive woes early on in the season could cause these games to be track meets, a stark contrast from last season’s tight series at the Compton Family Ice Arena.

I think Penn State can escape South Bend with at least one victory. The team has struggled to keep the puck out of its net early on this season, so I think a split is a fair prediction. One thing is certain though: These two games will be extremely fun to watch.

Puck drop on Friday night is at 7:35 and Saturday’s game time has been moved up to 5:30 p.m. Game two of this weekend’s series will still be televised on NBC Sports Network.

About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

Mikey is a sophomore journalism major and staff writer for Onward State from Bedminster, NJ. He loves to watch sports, but hockey has always been his favorite. Mikey is the first Penn Stater in his family and is an expert on the New Jersey Devils, chicken parm, and country music. If you're dying to see more hockey content on your timeline, you can follow Mikey on Twitter @mikey_mandarino. You can also send any questions, comments, and/or hate mail via email to [email protected]

Comments

State College Links
More by Mikey

Eric Barron Keynotes Third Annual Invent Penn State Conference

Barron lauded the growth of Penn State’s research and entrepreneurial programs during his keynote address at the third annual Venture and IP Conference.

Penn State Releases Rosters For Blue-White Game

Dry Weather Expected For Blue-White Weekend

Athletics

Big Ten Announces 2018-2019 In-Conference Hoops Matchups

The 2018-2019 season will feature a 20-game in conference schedule for the first time.

From Manager To Walk On: Penn State Softball’s Ashton Mensinger Enjoying Unexpected Opportunity

Penn State Women’s Lacrosse Loses To Maryland 13-8

Penn State Men’s Lacrosse’s Ryan Keenan Selected In MLL Draft

Penn State Baseball Snaps Eleven-Game Losing Streak Against Mount St. Mary’s

Student Life

Miniature Penn State Tailgate Bus Up For Sale, Tailgate Never Has To End

The bus was purchased at a church and designed to carry 22 children. Now it carries about 30 cases of beer.

Creamery ‘Brew And White’ Iced Coffee Now Available

Be A Part Of The 2018 Senior Class Photo Inside Beaver Stadium

Saquon Barkley Shows Some Skin On SI Cover

The NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 26, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Barkley is expected to be a top-five pick, and he and his most vehement supporters say there’s no reason he won’t go No. 1 overall.

Blue-White 2018 Prop Bets

Step right up and place some bets, folks!

Dry Weather Expected For Blue-White Weekend

Predicted temperatures in the mid-50s and mostly cloudy skies should make for a pleasant (but more importantly, dry) Blue-White Weekend.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Miniature Penn State Tailgate Bus Up For Sale, Tailgate Never Has To End

The bus was purchased at a church and designed to carry 22 children. Now it carries about 30 cases of beer.

Send this to a friend