By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After an exciting and successful weekend, Penn State men's hockey returns to Pegula Ice Arena looking to extend its 10-game unbeaten streak this weekend.
For the No. 13 Nittany Lions, the matchup brings yet another exciting opportunity to build on growing momentum, taking on one of the top-ranked teams in the country in No. 6 Ohio State.
"Friday certainly is exciting, a top team in the nation coming to our barn is just a great opportunity," Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "They're playing really well and we're playing well so it should be a high quality, intense hockey game."
The two teams last met in Columbus when the Blue and White took the series in dramatic fashion. It was junior Andrew Sturtz who scored the game-tying goal with merely moments left on the clock in the third period of game one. The Nittany Lions then went on snag the extra point with a shootout win, along with three points the next night in a 4-0 victory.
Even with the impressive early December outings, Penn State is in no way preparing any differently because of how the last series ended.
"It's going to be another hard game and another hard weekend for us," freshman Evan Barratt said. "We know we played them hard and got two wins against them earlier in the year and now it's a whole new weekend. We don't look at that, we look at what's coming up here."
Ohio State is working on a streak of their own, completing three sweeps against the last three teams they have faced, including both Michigan State and Minnesota, two teams the Nittany Lions have split with in their first meetings of the season.
Not surprisingly though, Penn State is sticking to its program philosophy, focusing on improving internally to emerge successful during this upcoming series.
"We know they are a really good team, we've seen them play well against a lot of other good teams," senior captain Erik Autio said. "But I think we're still focused on our game and that's how we'll beat them this weekend."
Heading into the back stretch of the season, things can heat up quickly with the potential for postseason approaching.
Penn State currently sits just below Ohio State in Big Ten rankings at No. 3, with Notre Dame leading the conference. Although Penn State has made a point to note they don't pay much attention to any sort of rankings, it is well-known just how important the outcome of this series can be once March rolls around.
"The nature of the Big Ten and playing Big Ten teams, there's just something about it, there's a different energy in the crowd and there's a different energy on the ice - don't know why, but there just is," senior captain James Robinson said. "Let alone Ohio State, they're a team we like to beat and a team I don't like to get beaten by, so I'm sure it's going to be an amped up weekend."