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‘The Sky Is Not Falling’: Guy Gadowsky Confident Penn State Men’s Hockey Will Right The Ship

Things haven’t been going so well for Penn State men’s hockey in the second half of the season.

In case you missed it, the Nittany Lions blew a second-period 3-0 lead to No. 7 Michigan in Ann Arbor Saturday night. After going up 4-2 at 16:55 of the third period, Luke Hughes scored his third and fourth goals of the game to hand Penn State a disastrous 5-4 defeat and a crushing sweep at the mercy of the Wolverines.

The worst was yet to come, though, when the team confirmed on Tuesday that forward Ben Schoen is out for the season after injuring his ankle on a nasty hit from Michigan defenseman Jay Keranen during Friday night’s game. On top of that, head coach Guy Gadowsky ruled out forward Ryan Kirwan for at least a month a few weeks ago.

Penn State finds itself with an abysmal 1-4-1 record since coming back from the break on January 14. It may seem like it is time to panic since two of Penn State’s better forwards are out and the Nittany Lions are losing ground in the Big Ten standings, but Gadowsky believes that the team will correct its recent poor play.

“The sky is not falling,” he said during his Tuesday afternoon press conference.

Gadowsky pointed out that the series could have easily resulted in a Penn State sweep if the puck bounced the other way throughout the weekend, calling hockey an “inexact game.”

“The first night, we ended up being down 2-0. I think we could have very well been up 3-0,” he said. “There were plenty of opportunities that we could have ended it too that we didn’t [take advantage of]… It’s what happens.”

It may sound like Gadowsky is trying to explain away his team’s recent slump, but he’s not exactly wrong. Of those five games Penn State has lost in its last six, four of those were one-goal losses, with three of those on the road. In its 7-3 Friday night loss, Penn State was only trailing 4-2 with four minutes left in the third period. It’s not like the Nittany Lions are getting blown out and aren’t competitive.

Even in Saturday night’s loss, Penn State held a commanding lead in the second period and was dominating the Wolverines, outshooting them 29-14 after two periods.

Still, the Nittany Lions should start to feel a sense of urgency.

Hockey is a weird game. It’s not like football and basketball where the better team wins most of the time. There could be nights when a team thoroughly outplays its opponent but runs a hot goalie and loses 1-0. On the other hand, there are nights when the team plays its worst game of the season but still finds a way to win.

These turbulent streaks are more common in hockey than in other sports. That’s just the nature of the game. But, this isn’t an 82-game NHL season: the Big Ten season is short, it’s competitive, and it’s a sprint to the finish, not a marathon. At some point, the Nittany Lions need to find a way to win, plain and simple.

Penn State still holds second place in the Big Ten with 27 points, 16 behind Minnesota. But, second and sixth place are only separated by three points. Remember, a team gets three points for a regulation conference win, not two like the NHL.

Courtesy of USCHO

With Ohio State and Michigan lurking, the Nittany Lions can fall fast if this streak continues.

On the bright side, Penn State has a chance to distance itself from Ohio State when it travels to Columbus for a two-game slate this weekend. After that, the Nittany Lions will head into a much-needed bye week that will give them valuable chance to rest and recharge.

Ryan Kirwan’s return gives Penn State fans another reason to stay optimistic, as Gadowsky hinted at the fact that Kirwan could possibly return before the end of the season.

If Penn State can at least split its series with the Buckeyes this weekend, or even get a potentially massive sweep in Columbus, the Nittany Lions will have some crucial breathing room in the standings heading into its bye week.

There are games in a season where, in hindsight, you can look back to and say “That was the turning point of the season.” This upcoming series could very well be that for the Nittany Lions.

Unless Penn State swept in Columbus this weekend, the sky is not falling.

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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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