By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After starting the new year with two consecutive home weekends at Pegula Ice Arena, No. 12 Penn State will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan for an in-conference series with No. 20 Michigan.
Coming off a series split against No. 6 Ohio State, Penn State's 5-1 loss Saturday night snapped an 11-game unbeaten streak.
"For the first time in 12 games we came up a little flat, but that's going to happen in a long season," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "Not too much to think about it but we do have to focus now on getting back very quickly to what made us successful in the past."
Despite snapping what was the second longest winning streak in program history, Gadowsky emphasized the need to move forward as a team.
"Hopefully we learned a lesson Saturday," Gadowsky said. "You can't win them all, It's a matter of how quickly you can regroup to be who you are to play your best and we'll see if we can do that."
Junior forward Andrew Sturtz, who tallied a goal and an
assist in last weekend's series versus the Buckeyes, talked about bouncing back
as a team.
"We're just trying to get back to the way we were playing Friday night and the last 10 games before that," Sturtz said. "We want to erase the short term memory of Saturday night and just get back to playing our game."
As the Nittany Lions look to turn the page on both their unbeaten streak and less than ideal finish to the Ohio State series, all eyes are set on the Wolverines.
No. 20 Michigan, coming off a series sweep against No. 13 Minnesota on the road, has found some momentum.
"What they did last weekend was very impressive," Sturtz added. "Not a lot of teams can go into that building and beat them twice."
Sturtz was exactly right.
In fact, since the formation of the Big Ten Conference for hockey in 2014, Michigan is the only team to sweep Minnesota as a visitor at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
Penn State currently sits third in the Big Ten standings with Michigan close behind in fourth.
Gadowsky echoed the words of his one of his top scorers.
"They're (Michigan) playing extremely well," Gadowsky said. "Every team in this league, there's not a lot of discrepancy between any two teams in the league and it's going to come down to a lot of the intangibles and we have to be ready to have those intangibles on our side."
The two teams last met in late October when Penn State hosted Michigan at Pegula Ice Arena. The hard fought and physical series resulted in a split, with Penn State earning a victory in the first contest on a game-winning overtime goal by sophomore forward Blake Gober before losing 5-2 the next night.
This series will present a different challenge for the Nittany Lions, as they must travel to Yost Ice Arena - one that has presented problems for Penn State in the past.
"In my opinion, it's the hardest arena to play in," Andrew Sturtz said. "Their crowd gets on us and gets on us early. This weekend has been marked down on my calendar all year and I look forward to trying to steal a couple of games there."
Gadowsky is also well aware of the challenges the road presents.
"It's tough to win games on the road," Gadowsky said. "We know it's not easy but I think the guys are hungry to prove that we can do it."Penn State and Michigan will lace up the skates for the weekend series beginning Friday at 8 p.m.