Staff Predictions: Penn State Men’s Hockey’s 2023-24 Season
Penn State men’s hockey returns to action at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 7, with a showdown at LIU. The Nittany Lions have heightened expectations despite losing nine mainstays over the offseason, going 22-16-1 in a season that culminated in an NCAA Regional Final loss.
Naturally, some of our staffers predicted how Penn State would fare this season, and they unanimously believe the Nittany Lions are in for a successful campaign.
Collin Ward: 19-14-1
Penn State is coming off an excellent year where it surpassed many expectations, but after losing some key players and goal scorers, it will be tough to replicate its accomplishments.
While there will be a step down in terms of wins this year, an early start in non-conference play should have the Nittany Lions feeling good as they enter the gauntlet of Big Ten hockey. I anticipate the confidence from an easier start to the year and the experience that last year brought will have Penn State punching above its weight in Big Ten play.
Expect to see the Nittany Lions sneak a few big wins out against the country’s powerhouses, especially when playing in front of their electric home crowd.
Dennis Wilkins: 20-14
Despite losing key contributors such as former captain Paul DeNaples and forwards Kevin Wall and Ture Linden, this Penn State team returned some solid talent. The biggest returner is arguably goaltender Liam Souliere, who is poised to have yet another stellar season in the net. His presence, combined with the return of newly-minted captain Christian Berger and other key contributors for their senior seasons will allow the Nittany Lions to push for 20-plus wins once again.
Michael Siroty: 23-10-1
Playing hockey in the Big Ten comes with an extremely difficult schedule, and there will be some tough competition for the Nittany Lions this season. I’m expecting a great season, but the series against Minnesota and Michigan will likely lead to several losses. A few other potential series splits and ties with the likes of Notre Dame and Michigan State bring my record prediction to 23-10-1.
Nolan Wick: 20-13-1
It’s never easy to predict what’s going to happen to Penn State. The Big Ten is wide open, and it’s impossible to be certain how the Nittany Lions will do with so much turnover.
The defense improved significantly, with the arrivals of transfers Tanner Palocsik and Jacques Bouquot likely to make it among the best in the conference. The offense is a different story, as several players, including top goal and point scorer Kevin Wall, departed.
However, Guy Gadowsky appears to have a good recruiting class, which is highlighted by AJHL standout Aiden Fink. Additionally, Penn State’s goaltending could also be the best in the conference, as Liam Souliere has only improved while Noah Grannan has made significant strides as a backup.
So, here goes nothing. I’m predicting Penn State to have a similar season to its last, starting out hot but teetering off in the second half. However, this group should again contend for the Big Ten and potentially even the Frozen Four.
CJ Doebler: 18-13-3
I’m going to be another dissenting voice. I don’t think Penn State will return to the level of play we saw last year.
The team looked great during the first half of last season and eventually reached the NCAA Regional Final. With the amount of turnover we’ve seen from the Nittany Lions ahead of the new season, I think it’s going to be tough to replicate that success. Penn State will perform well during the first half of the season again but will ultimately struggle once conference play begins.
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