Women’s hockey heads back out on the road this week, trying to make another big move in their conference standings with a good result at St. Cloud. Men’s hockey returns to the Schott to host Penn State. There are a lot of fun things planned for the men’s series. Script Ohio on ice will be performed on Friday night. Ohio State will be celebrating 50 years of men’s hockey on Saturday afternoon with pregame alumni recognition, the announcement of the fan-voted All-Buckeye team, and a postgame meet and greet with some of the players. You can read more about the promos here. For more on this week’s opponents and the Buckeyes’ conference outlooks, read on.
Fresh off their upset of No. 9 Wisconsin, Ohio State (12-9-1 overall, 2-5-1-0 B1G) returns to the friendly confines of the Schott to face Penn State or, as the internets like to call them, The Team That Ruined College Hockey. This series wraps up the first half of the conference season as the Buckeyes will have faced each Big Ten team once.
Looking at these two teams on paper, there’s very little doubt that Ohio State should come out of this series with six points. They’re much deeper and more talented at forward, and have more experienced players in general.
The young Nittany Lions (4-15-1 overall, 0-6-0-0 B1G) are a tough, scrappy team, though. They may not have anything to show for it yet but they’ve been tightening their game up week by week. They’ve also given a scare to some of the nation’s top teams.
Penn State has played five games in 2014, a series vs. No. 1 Minnesota, a series at Michigan State, and a single game vs. No. 2 Boston College. They lost all five games, but three of them were just one-goal affairs. The Lions also outshot their opponents on three occasions, once in each weekend.
Reading through the recent boxscores and recaps it seems that there are two things preventing PSU from getting the results they want. For one thing, finding the back of the net has been a challenge. The NIttany Lions have scored two or fewer goals in six straight games.
They haven’t exactly been making things easy on themselves, either. Undisciplined play late in their games has put the kibosh on more than one comeback attempt. In their last five third-periods, Penn State has racked up 10 penalties and a total of 34 penalty minutes. Their penalty kill has been very good (allowing just three PPG in Big Ten games) but they’ve still had to waste precious minutes defending their own end instead of overcoming their goal deficit.
If those trends continue, it should mean a good weekend for the Buckeyes. Ohio State hasn’t had much difficulty getting to three goals this season. They’ve been held to two or fewer goals just five of their 22 games. They’ve also been excellent on the power play (29% in conference games). It isn’t a stretch to imagine they could make those third period penalties extremely costly for Penn State.
On the other hand, the Lions are kind of due. They’ve been playing good hockey. They’re getting OK to outstanding goaltending. Sooner or later (probably sooner) they’re going to find the extra gear they need to claim a Big Ten victory. Fortunately for Buckeye fans, it doesn’t sound as if Ohio State is taking this series lightly.
So... no update on the status of Curtis Gedig or Craig Dalrymple. That's unfortunate.
Penn State is led in overall scoring by sophomores Eric Scheid (10-5--15) and Luke Juha (4-9--13) along with freshman David Goodwin (4-6--10). Juha’s four assists are the most points by a Nittany Lion in conference play. As for some of the team’s hottest players, Scheid and junior Taylor Holstrom have each recorded goals in back-to-back games.
The Buckeyes may very well see both PSU goalies in net this week. Former Ohio State commit Matt Skoff has appeared in a just few more games (12) than Eamon McAdam (8). Skoff has a 4-7-1 record, 3.39 GAA, .895 SV%. Though he’s played well of late, McAdam is still winless at 0-8-0 with a 3.94 GAA and .889 SV%.
The Nittany Lions will be without assistant captain David Glen this week as he continues to recover from making a bone marrow donation. After participating in a Penn State “Be the Match” drive for Kim Roper, Glen learned he was a match for another lady battling leukemia. He generously began the donation process even though it would require him to take a couple weeks off from hockey. He’s been very open in sharing his donation experience with the media and Twitter, encouraging others to register with “Be the Match” and help save a life.
Admiration and support for Glen’s “ultimate assist” have rolled in from all corners of the college hockey world. Buckeye fans will have the opportunity to add to that support this week. During either game of the series fans can visit the the Fred Taylor Room and register with “Be the Match” as a potential donor.
- Nick Schilkey and Justin DaSilva have a pre-series chat with the media here.
- Grant Miller previewed the Buckeyes’ upcoming series and Taylor Cameron penned (typed, whatever) a feature on Ryan Dzingel for The Lantern.
- Evan Romano wrote up a series preview for The Daily Collegian which includes the Nittany Lions’ thoughts on attempting to contain Dzingel.
- Again, see Ohio State’s series preview for more info about all of this week’s promotions and how to follow the games from home.
- Via either the men’s hockey or Knucklebucks’ Twitter account (I forget which), check out this article by Sylvain St. Laurent on the French language website La Presse about Ottawa Senators prospects Dzingel and Max McCormick. Do yourself a hilarious favor and let Google or whoever translate it. (“The Plague” can, on occasion, be a remarkably accurate description of McCormick.)
- In case you missed it, Christian Frey was named the Big Ten’s second star of the week for his part in the Buckeyes’ win over Wisconsin.
- Drew Claussen featured Michigan and Michigan State in his midweek post for USCHO.
- Joe Connor of USCHO was not impressed with the atmosphere in the Schott on a Tuesday in October vs. Bowling Green. Too bad for him that he picked a terrible night to visit, but at least that made it easier to throw another shovel of crap in the “Ohio State has a terrible, unsupportive fanbase” bucket. FYI, the Buckeyes are averaging a crowd of 5,000+ per night since the beginning of December which included a series against Mercyhurst while the students were on break.
This is a very winnable, very important series for the Buckeyes. They need the full six points if they’re going to stay in the race for a high seed in the Big Ten tournament. Even if they pull off the sweep, at best they’d head into the conference’s second half in fourth place, three points back of third.
Unless a banged up Wisconsin squad (no Tyler Barnes, Nic Kerdiles is questionable) somehow sweeps Michigan at Yost (possible but unlikely) the Badgers and Wolverines will be second and third at the conference’s midway point, one with 18 points and the other with 15.
The Gophers have a short bench this week, but Michigan State is still a longshot for more than split at Minnesota. Assuming Ohio State manages to take care of business this week, that would put them either in a tie with or three points ahead of the Spartans. (I think. Math has never been my strong suit.)
|No. 1 Minnesota||7||0||1||0||22||vs. MSU (FRI - 9:00 on BTN)|
|No. 9 Wisconsin||5||3||0||0||15||at MCH (FRI - 6:30 on BTN)|
|No. 12 Michigan||4||2||0||0||12||vs. UW (SAT - 6:30 on NBCS)|
|Michigan State||2||4||2||2||10||at MIN|
|Ohio State||2||5||1||0||7||vs. PSU (SAT - 2:00 on ESPNews)|
|Penn State||0||6||0||0||0||at OSU|
Ohio State visits St. Cloud this week, looking to continue their second half success and distance themselves from the conference’s cellar dwellers. Much like their male counterparts, the lady Bucks have a decided statistical advantage over this week’s opponent.
The Huskies are 1-7-0 since the winter break, including 3-0 and 3-1 losses to Minnesota last week. Their only victory came at Bemidji State in the lone second half game in which they’ve scored more than one goal.
Aside from a couple random four and six goal outings, St. Cloud has struggled to find the back of the net this season. They rank 35th of the country’s 36 teams in offense, scoring an average of 1.36 goals per game.
Their second half numbers are even more dismal. Since New Year’s they’re averaging just 1.00 goal per game. Seniors Molli Mott (10-8--18) and Julia Gilbert (7-10--17), and junior Abby Ness (6-6--12) are the only Huskies with double digit point totals
St. Cloud’s netminders always give the team a chance to win, though. Junior goaltender Julie Friend is 3-13-2 this season with a 2.55 GAA and an excellent .933 SV%. Sophomore Katie Fitzgerald is no slouch either with a 2.98 GAA and .917 SV%
Again, on paper this should be a successful weekend for the Buckeyes. Claudia Kepler is on a tear. Ally Tarr seems to have shaken off whatever scoring-whammy was keeping her down in the first half. Lisa Steffes and the team’s defense has been awesome. The lady Bucks should be able to move decisively out of the conference’s bottom feeder group this week and into its middle tier.
- Check out Ohio State’s series preview for info on following the games from home.
- In case you missed it, Claudia Kepler’s huge five-point series against Minnesota State earned her both conference rookie of the week and Ohio State athlete of the week honors.
- In their weekly women’s hockey discussion Arlan Marttila and Candace Horgan talk about the Buckeyes’ chances of pulling an upset come WCHA tournament time.
|No. 1 Minnesota||18||1||1||0||55||at UND|
|No. 2 Wisconsin||17||3||2||1||54||bye|
|No. 3/4 North Dakota||13||4||3||2||44||vs. MIN|
|Bemidji State||6||12||2||1||21||vs. UMD|
|Ohio State||4||11||5||1||18||at STC|
|St. Cloud||3||17||2||1||12||vs. OSU|