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Penn State Men’s Hockey Focusing On ‘Smaller Details’ Following Brutal Michigan State Series

Penn State men’s hockey held a comfortable 2-0 lead heading into the third period of game one in its series against Michigan State. Then, the Spartans scored two goals just five minutes apart from each other and then scored an overtime game-winner to complete a 3-2 comeback victory.

In game two, both teams battled until the end. Although the game is officially a tie, Michigan State won 5-4 in a shootout. It’s safe to say it was a series of unfortunate events in East Lansing.

Heading into the series, Penn State had won four of its last six games, while Michigan State only won one of them. Therefore, the Nittany Lions left without victory in arguably its easiest Big Ten series of the season.

Although Penn State took two points from the series, this result isn’t a good look. So, what even happened here?

“What happened was we allowed very little plays to change momentum of the game,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “And that third period was a little bit like an immature team, to be honest with you.”

Momentum swings are simply part of the game. It’s important to avoid getting too comfortable when leading by more than one goal, particularly in a conference as competitive as the Big Ten. Unfortunately for Penn State, that’s exactly what happened.

“We just got comfortable and complacent,” said defenseman Jarod Crespo. “They took it to us, and it didn’t work out for us.”

As tough as the series was, the team acknowledged there’s an important lesson to take away, which is a very important realization. With five series’ remaining in the regular season and a tight standings race underway, this lesson is potentially a blessing in disguise that couldn’t have come at a better time.

The break between the matchup against the Spartans and the upcoming series against Notre Dame this weekend is a crucial time to regroup and learn from the experience. Both teams play a similar, physical style of play and will capitalize on their opponent’s mistakes.

Penn State took a whopping nine penalties during the series. Having good discipline will continue to be vital down the stretch, and it’s definitely a reason why the Nittany Lions lost.

“We took some bad penalties and they capitalized on a couple other power plays, which definitely hurt us,” forward Tyler Paquette said.

Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions had 11 power plays and capitalized on three of them. Michigan State handed them opportunity after opportunity to get the job done, and Penn State couldn’t take advantage.

As a result, Paquette stressed that the Nittany Lions have worked on the “smaller details” in practice this week.

This team understands exactly what went wrong and why and has taken steps to address it. That’s the difference between a good team and a bad team. Good teams learn from their mistakes, and bad teams don’t.

This Penn State team has proved it’s a good team because it has learned from its mistakes and played well. With a series against Notre Dame on the horizon and the season approaching the home stretch, there’s every reason to believe the Nittany Lions will learn from their mistakes in East Lansing and play better hockey moving forward.

No. 6 Penn State’s series against Notre Dame will kick off at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, January 20, at Pegula Ice Arena. The game on Saturday, which begins at 5 p.m., will serve as the Nittany Lions’ annual “Wear White” game.

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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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