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Third-Period Struggles Plague Penn State Men’s Hockey Entering Final Stretch

On Friday, January 28, Penn State men’s hockey faced No. 12 Ohio State on its home ice, leading to a much-needed Big Ten win and, arguably, the team’s most complete game to date. At the time, it felt as if the Nittany Lions had found a turning point to regroup as they ventured down the regular season’s final stretch entering Big Ten Tournament play.

Since that fateful 3-2 shootout win at Pegula Ice Arena, the Nittany Lions have spiraled out of control. Now, they’ve lost three straight games while being outscored 16-2 in the process.

Up-and-down discipline, shaky goaltending, and lack of offensive consistency have all doomed Penn State of late, but no problem is more alarming than the Nittany Lions’ continued struggles in the third period.

Dating back to the beginning of the season, the Nittany Lions are being outscored by a staggering 11-goal margin in the third period. To go along with the team’s recent play in the net, opposing goalies have saved 60 more shots than Penn State’s duo of Oskar Autio and Liam Souliere in the third period.

In the team’s most recent road trip, a two-game sweep at the hands of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Penn State was outscored a combined 5-1 in the third period across the series. Prior to hitting the road for South Bend, Penn State was shut out in the third period in both of its two games against Ohio State.

When tied or trailing after two periods, the Nittany Lions have a record of 1-12-1 — a win percentage of just over 8%.

The final stretch of the season for the Nittany Lions consists of a two-game series against Minnesota at home before hitting the road for East Lansing for a two-game series against Michigan State.

Following the conclusion of the regular season, Penn State will play in a Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal best-of-three series beginning on Friday, March 4. The opponent and location are still set to be determined based on the final Big Ten standings.

As things stand right now, Penn State ranks fifth in the Big Ten with 17 points. If the season were to end today, Penn State would be the No. 5 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which would send the Nittany Lions back to South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish in a win-or-go-home best-of-three series.

Following their much-needed bye week, the Nittany Lions will return home to host the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The teams previously split a two-game series earlier this season in Minnesota.

Penn State’s two-game series against Minnesota begins at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, February 18, and continues at 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 19. Both games will be available on the Big Ten Network.

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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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