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Know Your Enemy: No. 17 Penn State Hockey vs. No. 6 Ohio State In Big Ten Semifinal

No. 17 Penn State men’s hockey (21-14-2, 13-13-1 Big Ten) and No. 6 Ohio State will square off in the Big Ten tournament this weekend.

Puck drop for the semifinal game is slated for 3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 17, and the Buckeyes will host the contest after finishing the regular season at the top of the Big Ten.

Regardless of Sunday’s result, Ohio State’s spot in the NCAA tournament is all but secured at this point. In contrast, Penn State likely needs to win the conference title in order to compete. Can Guy Gadowsky’s squad pull off the upset and earn the right to take on either Minnesota or Notre Dame in the Big Ten championship game next week?

The Team

Ohio State (20-9-5, 13-7-4 Big Ten) won the Big Ten’s regular season title for a reason, and the team seems poised to win the conference’s tournament this offseason.

Head coach Steve Rohlik’s squad will be well-rested this weekend after earning a first-round bye in the conference tournament. However, Ohio State’s form entering the postseason won’t inspire confidence — a 5-1 victory over Michigan State was the only win in its final five regular season contests.

Although the Buckeye offense proved it can consistently score with 3.15 goals per game, defense has been the team’s calling card. Goaltenders Tommy Nappier and Sean Romeo have stonewalled opposing offenses by allowing a combined 2.18 goals per game this season.

Offense

Senior Mason Jobst has led the Ohio State attack this year. The veteran has scored a team-leading 17 goals in 34 appearances, and his 19 assists are second only to Tanner Laczynski’s 20 in the 2018-19 season.

Jobst has scored 164 points in 148 collegiate games, so the Nittany Lion defense will have its hands full when the Buckeyes’ captain takes the ice. Meanwhile, Laczynski’s put up 30 points in 25 games and is still one of the Buckeyes’ most dangerous forwards.

Despite being Ohio State’s top two scorers, Laczynski and Jobst are commonly deployed on two separate lines. Jobst centers the Buckeyes’ first line with sophomore Austin Pooley and freshman Quinn Preston, who have combined for 19 points this season. Veterans Ronnie Hein and Freddy Gerard have scored 21 and 20 points, respectively, this year, and they’re often deployed with Laczynski on the second line.

Senior Dakota Joshua is another player to watch in Ohio State’s corps of forwards. The senior is tied for third on the team with 22 points and always seems to bring his A-game to matchups against Penn State, as evidenced by the multiple goals he’s scored in front of The Roar Zone at Pegula Ice Arena.

Defense & Goaltending

Ohio State isn’t afraid to switch between Tommy Nappier and Sean Romeo in goal, but Nappier has clearly established himself as the best goaltender on the team.

The sophomore’s 12-2-3 record, 1.78 goals-against average, and .937 save percentage are all stellar. He’s no stranger to success against Penn State, either — he won both of his starts against the Nittany Lions on November 24 and January 19. Sean Romeo was in goal for the Buckeyes’ only loss to Penn State this season, but his 2.58 goals-against average and .902 save percentage are still extremely solid.

Senior defenseman Sasha Larocque anchors the team’s blue line. He’s nominated for the Big Ten defensive player of the year award alongside Penn State’s Paul DeNaples and Michigan’s Quinn Hughes, who was a top ten pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Prediction

On paper, Ohio State is a much deeper, stronger team than Penn State, with a 3-1 record against Guy Gadowsky’s team to prove it. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but something about this Penn State team makes me think it’s destined for a title game appearance.

The Nittany Lions will win 3-2 in overtime — Nate Sucese will bury the goal that sends them to the Big Ten championship game against either Notre Dame or Minnesota.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

Mikey is a junior majoring in journalism and Onward State's Sports Editor. He grew up in Bedminster, NJ and is way too obnoxious about all the best things his home state has to offer. He likes to play golf, but he isn't very good at it because golf is hard. If you're dying to see more hockey/golf content on your timeline, you can follow Mikey on Twitter @mikey_mandarino. Send all hate mail/death threats to [email protected]

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