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Penn State Men’s Hockey Discipline Struggles Continue In Key Stretch

For what has been a problem for the majority of the season, Penn State’s lack of discipline, tendencies to take bad penalties, and poor play on the penalty kill have haunted the team. Now, it’s starting to have an effect on the team’s record.

The Nittany Lions’ up-and-down performance the last few weeks proves how important special teams play is. More importantly, it highlights what can happen if you take untimely penalties — especially against superior opponents.

In Penn State’s series against No. 2 Michigan, in which the team was outscored 11-3 in two games, the Nittany Lions committed seven penalties and successfully killed off just four. Discipline has been an issue all season for Penn State, but no problems prevailed until the schedule flipped upside down. A stretch of games that included Ohio State, Michigan, and Minnesota saw the Nittany Lions go just 1-5 in six games and tested Penn State’s discipline and special teams units, a test the Nittany Lions failed.

“There’s things we need to do better for sure,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “It’s funny. We started out really well in that area and then have been more focused on other things, and sometimes you end up paying for it. I think we are, so I think we have to get back to being a little more attentive to that.”

When asked about the struggles on the penalty kill, Gadowsky referenced the unit’s strong play to begin the season. But as the schedule has advanced and as the opponents have gotten tougher, the team’s focus has seemed to waver, leading to less discipline and a less sound penalty kill.

The breaking point came in the Nittany Lions’ second game against Minnesota. In that matchup, junior forward Tyler Gratton took an ill-advised tripping penalty in the third period that led to a power-play goal for the Golden Gophers, which turned out to be the game-winning score.

Gadowsky admitted that the team’s lack of timely discipline likely cost the team the sweep in Minnesota.

“We didn’t have faith in our game and we didn’t have the mental toughness to keep doing what we do. We gave one away there with penalties,” Gadowsky said.

Penn State’s schedule over the next three-plus weeks gives the Nittany Lions the opportunity to get the penalty kill back on track before another rough stretch of games. From now until January 1, Penn State will play four of its six games at home against opponents with a combined record of 13-26-4.

Penn State (9-6, 1-5 Big Ten) will return to Pegula Ice Arena for the first time in three weeks when the Nittany Lions host the Michigan State Spartans for a two-game series beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 3.

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About the Author

Devon Craley

Devon is a junior studying sports journalism. He has the genuine misfortune of being a Philadelphia sports fan...IYKYK. Send your hot takes and preferably your freezing cold takes on Twitter to @devon3134. Devon is also your friendly, neighborhood State College movie nerd.

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