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Keys For Penn State Men’s Hockey To Finish The Season Strong

As it stands, Penn State men’s hockey is in the middle of a bounce-back season. After posting back-to-back losing seasons, the Nittany Lions are currently ranked No. 5 in the country with a 17-5-0 record.

With 12 games remaining in the regular season and a trip to East Lansing on the docket this weekend, the Nittany Lions have their work cut out for them. For Penn State to end the remaining portion of the season on a high note, a couple of things must continue to happen on the ice.

Goaltending Must Continue To Be Efficient

Although this is rather cliché, a hockey team will go as far as its goaltending takes it. So far, Liam Souliere has been outstanding in net. Souliere’s 2.10 goals against average is his most impressive stat, which currently ranks second in the Big Ten behind Minnesota’s Justen Close (2.08 GAA) and No. 12 among Division I goaltenders.

Meanwhile, Souliere’s save percentage (.923) is tied for second in the Big Ten with Michigan State’s Dylan St. Cyr and narrowly trails Notre Dame’s Ryan Bischel (.924).

Souliere tends to concede three or more goals every once in a while, but he has recently played well. Souliere allowed one goal in each game against RIT, which is tied with Michigan State at No. 15 in most goals scored (69).

Penn State’s upcoming series against the Spartans will certainly be a test for Souliere. He gave up three goals in just eight minutes in the first period in Penn State’s 7-3 game two loss to Michigan State in November, causing Guy Gadowsky to pull him. However, Souliere has been more than good enough this season to make people have confidence he’ll continue playing well down the stretch and help Penn State win games.

The Entire Roster Needs To Contribute

It’s no secret that players such as Kevin Wall (11 goals, nine assists, 20 points) and Connor MacEachern (eight goals, 10 assists, 18 points) have shown up in major ways for the Nittany Lions this season. The two, among others, have been key players for Penn State.

However, the entire roster must continue to contribute day in and day out, which is largely what has happened so far. There has been noticeable improvement from Christian Sarlo and Xander Lamppa, who are having career seasons and continue to answer the bell when needed. Sarlo and Lamppa’s line has even been nicknamed the “identity line” by Gadowsky.

Depth is just as important in hockey as star players, if not more so. Nearly every player, including guys from the new freshman class and the transfer portal, is pitching in when need be. How Penn State adjusts its depth chart following Ben Copeland’s departure will be interesting, too.

Continue To Possess The Puck And Take Many Shots

Penn State likes to impose a very offensive style of play that involves taking a high number of shots per game (39.9). This has led to the Nittany Lions scoring 3.7 goals per game, meanwhile, their opponents are averaging 2.4 goals per game.

Therefore, there is usually success when Penn State controls the puck and takes shot after shot. It wears out opposing defenses and goaltenders, including other elite teams like Minnesota and Michigan. As long as the Nittany Lions impose this style of play, they should continue winning games.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a sophomore majoring in journalism. From the Maryland side of the D.C. suburbs, Nolan likes using Old Bay and is a diehard Washington sports fan, which isn't fun these days. If you want to keep in touch with Nolan, follow him on Instagram @_nolanwick or on Twitter @nolan_wick.

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