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Being ‘Complacent’ Costing Penn State Men’s Hockey Down The Stretch Of Season

Things haven’t been going well for Penn State men’s hockey as of late. The Nittany Lions got swept by Minnesota this past weekend even though they had two weeks to prepare for the series. Game one was a brutal 7-2 beatdown, while the following night saw the Nittany Lions lose a 3-2 overtime heartbreaker despite taking a 2-1 lead in the final minute of regulation.

A Penn State team that started its season with a program record-setting win streak is now just 1-5 in its last six games.

Following game two of the series, forwards Ture Linden and Tyler Gratton cited the team’s mentality during the game as one of the reasons behind the Nittany Lions’ loss.

“We got a little complacent,” Linden said.

“We kind of took the game for granted,” Gratton said. “I don’t think we were fully prepared for the task at hand going into Friday night.”

This is troubling, as Penn State had an entire two weeks to prepare for this series. Minnesota came into the series after splitting its last set against conference-worst Wisconsin. The Gophers were also banged up, with two key defensemen, including captain Brock Faber, sidelined with injuries. One would think Penn State might’ve capitalized on this.

What is also troubling, though, is there should never have been complacency or games being taken for granted against arguably the best team in America, especially in a series that had such significant implications in the Big Ten standings. To lose both games simply isn’t good enough.

It’s alarming that this isn’t the first time complacency has been an issue this season for Penn State. After January’s series at Michigan State that saw the Nittany Lions lose in overtime and then in a shootout the next game, similar things were said.

“I think we got comfortable,” defenseman Jarod Crespo after that series. “I think we got a lead and kind of sat back and instead of, you know, jamming it down their throats and scoring a couple more goals, we just got comfortable and complacent. They took it to us and it didn’t work out for us.”

Being complacent, getting too comfortable, and taking games for granted is a recipe for failure, regardless of the circumstances. The players almost certainly know that, so why does this keep happening? Well, defenseman Christian Berger stressed that it happens subconsciously when things are going well.

“It just kind of happens…by no one’s intention,” he said.

It’s unfortunate for Penn State that this has been a recurring issue. At one point this season, the Nittany Lions had a legitimate chance to win the Big Ten regular-season title, which Minnesota ultimately captured last week. While complacency is not the only reason Penn State has not gotten the results it has wanted as much recently, a stronger mindset may have impacted the outcome of some of those close, tough losses.

The talent is still there for Penn State to make a run in the Big Ten tournament, where anything can take place. However, this problem needs to be solved sooner rather than later if the Nittany Lions plan on making a deep run in postseason play.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a third-year journalism major from Silver Spring, Maryland, which means he's an avid fan of all D.C. sports teams. If Nolan isn't writing about or watching sports, you can probably find him listening to all sorts of music or traveling. To keep up with Nolan, you can follow him on Twitter @nolan_wick or email him at [email protected].

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