Penn State Men’s Hockey Relying On Hot Forward Line Ahead Of Big Ten Tournament
For the second time in 30 days, Penn State men’s hockey will play Ohio State in Columbus. This time, the stakes are significantly higher.
After splitting the regular season series, the two squads will face off in a best-of-three series that begins on Friday to open the Big Ten Tournament.
Ranked one spot ahead of the Nittany Lions in the latest USCHO Poll, the Buckeyes are a dangerous team and boast the best penalty-killing percentage (.894) in the nation. Meanwhile, Jakub Dobeš has proved to be among the best goaltenders in the Big Ten and is among conference leaders in goals against average, saves per game, and save percentage.
Playing against Dobeš and the Buckeyes will undoubtedly be a tall task for the Nittany Lions, however, the goalkeeper and defensive company will have their hands full against Ashton Calder, Ture Linden, and Danny Dzhaniyev’s line.
The three forwards made up head coach Guy Gadowsky’s top line against Wisconsin last weekend, and for good reason. In Penn State’s last four games, the trio has combined for a whopping 13 points.
For starters, Linden exploded in game one against the Badgers, posting two first-period goals and an assist. Dzhaniyev scored a goal just 14 seconds after puck drop and registered an assist in game one. Meanwhile, Calder had two assists in the matchup.
Although none of the three players contributed offensively in game two, they were certainly active against Minnesota. Linden had three points, Calder had two, and Dzhaniyev had one in the series.
“They’ve been really, really good down the stretch,” Gadowsky said. “I think they’re generating momentum for us, however, so they’re going to be really important.”
If Penn State is to score against Dobeš, this could very well be the line that does it. With how hot the group has been recently, its presence will be significant.
Linden and Calder both transferred into the Penn State program prior to this season and have each made significant impacts on the ice for the Nittany Lions.
Meanwhile, Dzhaniyev is only a sophomore. The Brooklyn, New York, native went 10 games without scoring a point from October 21 until December 3 and has since found his form. Since that December 3 outing against the Buckeyes, Dzhaniyev has scored nine of his 15 points this season.
The way the three have played recently hasn’t only impressed Gadowsky, but also captain Paul DeNaples, who said it’s “huge” that they’re playing well. Goaltender Liam Souliere echoed those feelings, too.
“They really found their stride, and they’re getting that chemistry going and being able to find each other on the ice for some pretty goals,” Souliere said. “It’s great to see.”
As the Nittany Lions come closer to the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship selection on March 19, Calder, Linden, and Dzhaniyev are heating up at the perfect time.
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About the Author
Kotelnicki would be James Franklin’s sixth offensive coordinator at Penn State.
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