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Staff Predictions: Penn State Hockey’s 2020-21 Season

No. 9 Penn State men’s hockey kicks off its season Thursday on the road against No. 14 Minnesota.

The Nittany Lions are coming off a regular-season Big Ten title for the first time in program history. After Penn State lost much of its offensive and defensive core, our staff is relatively confident the team can defend its Big Ten title.

Frankie Marzano: 18-5-5

I have a lot of confidence in the Nittany Lions this year. Despite losing key talent on offense and defense, I am confident that the proper players will be able to step up and fill those roles, especially on the defense. Defensemen Evan Bell and Mason Snell are both coming off solid seasons and will make big contributions to the defense. Senior defenseman Clayton Phillips is coming off a somewhat slow season but will serve as one of the Nittany Lions’ most experienced defensemen. The defense will be strong this year.

I also think that Penn State will have the perfect one-two punch at goalie with junior Oskar Autio and freshman Liam Soulière. Autio has already had experience in Big Ten hockey and is coming off a solid season with a 2-1-1 record, 1.87 GAA, and .930 save percentage. Soulière is coming off an excellent season with the CCHL’s Brockville Braves while posting a 26-8-0 record. If both goalies play well, the Nittany Lions will be able to compete with any team in the country.

Connor Donohue: 15-10-3

I like the squad Penn State has assembled for this season, but so many question marks remain. The forward group has some top-end talent and a lot of promise but unproven depth. Can Paul Denaples and Clayton Phillips fill the void left by players like Kris Myllari and Cole Hults on the blue line? Is Oskar Autio or Liam Soulière the rightful heir for Peyton Jones?

The Nittany Lions will not be a bad team, but I do not think they will finish top of the standings like they did last year. Alex Limoges is one of the best players in the conference and Arnie Talivite isn’t too far behind. The Big Ten was so competitive last year I think that will be the case this year. Penn State is coming into the season as the highest-ranked team in the conference according to USCHO.com, but they were ranked last in the conferences’ preseason poll according to Big Ten coaches.

I think Minnesota has national championship potential with the talent they have on their roster as well as Michigan with players like Cam York and Owen Power. Penn State falls in that second tier with teams like Notre Dame and Ohio State. It’s so hard to predict what this season will look like, but I think the Nittany Lions will finish in either third or fourth in the conference.

Acacia Aster Broder: 14-12-2

While last season they played very strong and won the Big Ten Championship, with a large number of key players leaving a gap will need to be filled. With a pandemic preventing the players from getting ice time as a whole team up until this point, I think that the impact of that will be pretty great. Team chemistry is very important in order for a team to do well, and I think the lack of whole-group in-person interactions from the get-go will have a heavy impact on how the team does in early games.

But, the team still has some very consistent, dependable figures who I think will hold it down for the team, such as Captain Alex Limoges and Alternate Captain Paul DeNaples. The freshman entering the team put up a solid record prior to coming to Penn State, and there is a lot of pressure on them to perform this season.

Last season Penn State won 59% of the games they played, ending the season with an overall record of 20-10-4. I think this season they will hover around the 50% mark and perform solidly in half of this season’s games. I don’t think they will win the Big Ten Championship again this year, but I think we will need to see how the first few games play out to gauge if they will be contenders or not.

Jordan Mansberger: 16-12-0

Penn State will undergo a massive rebuild this season after losing several record-setting seniors last year including Biro and Sucese. I expect this team to be competitive and hold true to the Guy Gadowsky philosophy of pucks on the net. The defense will still be lackluster at times but their best player will be Clayton Phillips. The Penguins prospect will shine and stand out from this young team in their Big Ten Title Defending season.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a sophomore accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the Rangers, Jets, Mets, and any Penn State athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Penn State and Rangers content.

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