Know Your Enemy: Men’s Hockey vs. No. 11 Ohio State
Guy Gadowsky and his Nittany Lions will travel to Columbus to take on No. 11 Ohio State at the Value City Arena. The Buckeyes currently sit with an 8-3-3 record, but all three of those losses have come in conference play.
Ohio State is off to a strong start this season and, like Penn State, is currently riding a four game undefeated streak. Last weekend, the Buckeyes traveled to a hostile Yost Ice Arena and swept Michigan, winning the second game of the series by a decisive score of 5-1.
This weekend, Penn State travels to a rink that, strangely enough, the Buckeyes have struggled in this season. Ohio State boasts a dazzling 7-1-1 away record, but has only managed one home win in its first five games in Columbus. The team’s two home losses both came at the hands of Notre Dame, a team that’s undefeated in Big Ten play so far this year.
Outside of the Notre Dame series, Ohio State tied twice against RPI, which has a record of 2-9-3 on the year, on home ice during the second weekend of the season. The Buckeyes’ one home victory came against Robert Morris on October 27.
Despite these struggles, Ohio State is still stacked with talent in every part of the ice. Up front, sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski is coming off a four-point weekend that earned him Big Ten star of the week honors. Laczynski, a sixth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2016, leads the team with 17 points through his first 14 games of the year while playing on a line alongside Matthew Weis and Freddy Gerard.
Top center Mason Jobst has had a strong start to the season, as well; his seven goals lead all Buckeye skaters and his 13 points are second only to Laczynski. Center Dakota Joshua has only scored eight points so far this season, but he was excellent against Penn State last year as the Buckeyes won the two teams’ regular season series.
As far as keeping the puck out of the net is concerned, goaltender Sean Romeo has been a massive addition to Ohio State’s roster. The redshirt junior transferred from the University of Maine to join Ohio State’s program this year and he has dazzled in the early part of this season. His 1.69 goals-against average and .931 save percentage are both big reasons Ohio State’s defense is the best in the Big Ten to this point.
This weekend’s series will be a matchup of an unstoppable force coming up against an immovable object.
For Penn State, the unstoppable force is the offense. The Nittany Lions’ 61 goals for are the most in the Big Ten, but they will come up against the immovable object in the form of Sean Romeo and the Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes have conceded just 27 goals through 14 games, the fewest in the Big Ten.
Ohio State’s offense has struggled to put the puck in the net so far this year (2.71 goals per game — sixth in the Big Ten), but the Buckeyes simply won’t need to score too many goals if Romeo stays hot in net.
Ohio State was No. 11 in the country the last time these two teams met, but the now-unranked Nittany Lions were the No. 1 team in the nation during the last series.
Ohio State has a white-hot goalie and is coming off a statement sweep over a good Michigan team, but has picked up just one win at home this season. Penn State managed to pick up a split in Columbus last season, so I think Guy Gadowsky’s team will do the same again this weekend.