Mental ‘Fragileness’ Holding Penn State Men’s Hockey Back

It was a rough weekend for Penn State men’s hockey, to say the least.

The Nittany Lions were swept for the second week in a row, this time by No. 2 Michigan after losing 5-1 Thursday night and 6-2 Friday night. On the surface, it looks like Penn State never got anything going, but both games followed a similar theme stemming from the team’s series against Ohio State.

After completing the upset over No. 6 North Dakota, the Nittany Lions came out buzzing in their first game with the Buckeyes. Penn State claimed an early one-goal lead and had control of the game, but it didn’t last too long. The brakes started to fall off as Ohio State scored two quick goals at the end of the second period and two more to start the third, leading to the team’s 5-1 loss.

The same thing happened in the second game with the Buckeyes as well, with Penn State not being able to recover after Ohio State scored the game-tying goal in the third period. Guy Gadowsky’s squad was determined to learn from its mistakes leading up to its series with No. 2 Michigan, but the trend of not being able to put together a full, solid 60-minute game persisted.

Of course, Michigan is a very talented hockey team, perhaps the most talented Big Ten squad we have seen in years. It was very obvious to see why the Wolverines were ranked No. 2 over the weekend and now No. 1 as of this week’s USCHO poll. Eventually, the gap in talent between the two teams made its impact on the game.

On Thursday night, it was obvious that the Nittany Lions didn’t show up mentally prepared to play. Despite starting well and keeping up with the Wolverines’ talented roster, they lost a lot of steam after giving up the first two goals of the game.

“We didn’t finish,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said after Thursday’s loss. “I thought we were very fragile…I thought that we played really well [in] the first half of the game, but the fragileness comes from we gave up after. It doesn’t matter. It’s a 60-minute game.”

Gadowsky also mentioned that he didn’t think his team showed the will to fight to get back into the game when things went bad in the second period.

“It was a negative feel rather than a let’s get going feel,” Gadowsky added. “That feels like a little bit of an inexperienced thing. That was probably the most disappointing thing about the game.”

Despite the poor performance, the Nittany Lions were able to, somewhat, turn it around by Friday night with a more positive attitude, but it still wasn’t enough to conquer the Wolverines.

“We were playing pretty well [Friday night], and we let in a fairly bad goal when we were playing well, and the guys stayed very positive, which was different than Thursday,” Gadowsky said Monday. “I think we didn’t do a very good job of it on Thursday, and we did on Friday. I thought we played well because of it.”

Gadowsky added that he thinks the team is on the right track to gaining better mental toughness.

Forward Ben Copeland also noticed the difference in the team’s mindset and mental toughness between both nights.

“On Thursday, we were a little negative and took too many penalties, and that’s what brought down the negativity and how the bench was like,” Copeland said. “Friday was a big change for us. I thought [we had] a mature mindset but not good enough. Hopefully, this weekend is a different result.”

The now-unranked Nittany Lions will travel to Minnesota to take on the No. 7 Golden Gophers at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 19. The game can be streamed on BTN+.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior 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 New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at [email protected].

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