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Sights and Sounds from Lady Lions Media Day

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By Mike Esse, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Members of the media filled the Bryce Jordan Center Monday as the Lady Lions held their annual media day.

Coquese Washington met with the media prior to an open gym on the Bryce Jordan Center hardwood where players and coaches spoke about the upcoming season. The Lady Lions host IUP Sunday at 2 p.m. for an exhibition contest before the regular season begins Friday Nov. 14 against Towson.

Take a look through some news and notes from media day.

Young Players All Around
After losing four starters from one year ago, the Lady Lions are moving into a new season with a lot of youth. The roster is filled with players that have starting experience, some that are moving from role players to starters and some that are new to the Lady Lion roster. This brings a little uncertainty for Coquese Washington and her staff simply because players are still developing and progressing, unlike past years where there were veteran players at the helm.

However, even with youth and inexperience on the roster, the expectations haven't changed for Washington and her team.

"Our expectation is simple: we're going to get better every day, every week, every month of the season," Washington said. "We want to play our best basketball by the end of the season. Our expectations are to win. Those are our expectations and they don't change."

Washington said that she has talked to Penn State women's volleyball head coach Russ Rose and learned from his illustrious and successful career and used that as a guide for this season.

"How we do those things, what it looks like on the court may change depending on our personality from year to year, but the expectations certainly don't change," she said. "I've learned that from my Russ Ross. He tends to win championships like I eat popcorn, so I kind of listen when he talks."

Finally Playing
Two players that are a part of the youth movement for Penn State, Lindsey Spann and Sierra Moore, came in highly touted to the Lady Lions last season but had to miss 2013-'14 due to an injury and transfer rules, respectively. For Moore, being healthy but not being able to play was tough, but now she's solely focused on contributing in her redshirt sophomore season.

"I'm very excited," the Duke transfer said. "It's been a long time since I've been on the court [in a game situation] and I'm excited to play with this team. We're young and we're ready to go and we're fiery."

Moore was a McDonald's All-American guard coming out of high school. Fellow guard Spann was also highly recruited, but suffered an injury during summer practice in 2013 forcing her to miss her first season at Penn State. Healthy and ready to go, Spann is expected to fill in nicely at the guard position.

Both players have a unique bond together since they sat and watched from the bench side-by-side for an entire season. They were a visible force of energy from the sidelines and now get to bring it on the court.

"[Moore] is one of my best friends on and off the court," Spann said. "We have a really close bond and we love playing together. We both feed off the energy one another generate; it'll be exciting."

New Assistants Bring Added Energy
Itoro Coleman and Jocelyn Wyatt are new to the Lady Lion coaching staff this season. Coleman, former head coach at Clemson, was an assistant under Washington from 2008-'10 before taking the job at Clemson. Wyatt is in her first season in Happy Valley after previously coaching at Georgia State as an assistant.

Both coaches fit the Lady Lion bill being energetic and having a fun side to their coaching style. Washington said just three weeks into practice their impact is already being felt.

"Jocelyn [Wyatt] and Itoro [Coleman] are both having a really strong impact on our [program]," Washington said. "In practice, their energy level and attention to detail are certainly paying off. I think that's part of our growth. That's why we're seeing the team come together and get better over the past few weeks."

Coleman is helping specifically with the frontcourt players, who echoed Washington's sentiments and said that her knowledge has helped them grow and see the game better.

"As a group, she's helped us with rebounding and she's made us play smarter," center Tori Waldner said. "We're using our energy to get rebounds in specific ways. We're focusing on where the ball as it is coming off the rim. It's not the effort that she's worried about; it's more how we play the game intellectually."

The Lone Senior
Waldner is the only senior on the Lady Lion roster and the only player to be a part of the past three Big Ten tournament championships. She has been mentioned by all members of the team and staff as one of the team's biggest leaders this season and although it may be odd having just one senior on a roster, Waldner has embraced the role.

"It's pretty cool," Waldner said. "Being the leader is awesome, especially since a young group that is really enthusiastic about learning. I've been enjoying my experience with them and coach [Coquese Washington] has, too. We've been getting a lot better with experience in scrimmages and getting more playing time."

Washington said having a player like Waldner on the roster is critically important, especially with such a young team.

"She's doing a really good job of being vocal without being too focused on other people and not really focusing on herself," Washington said. "What I mean by that is she's sometimes out there with a freshman and three sophomores, so there's a lot of [messing] up that's going on.

If she spends so much time trying to make sure everybody else is doing what they're suppose to do, she would run the risk of not being able to make sure she's in a position to make plays."

Monday Notebook: Defense Looking to Build on Dominant in Second Half

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10476866.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite playing at a high level during the first six weeks of the season, the Penn State defense said that it could play a little better.

True to its word, the defense took its game to another level in the second half on Saturday against Ohio State. Simply put, the Nittany Lions were dominant in the second half of the primetime Penn State White Out against an offensive unit that came into the game among the top statistical groups in the country.

Ohio State entered the game averaging 46.5 points per game. The Nittany Lions held the Buckeye offense to 17 points through four quarters of regulation, including zero in the second half. Ohio State had only two combined scoreless quarters during the first six games before the Lions held the Buckeyes scoreless in back-to-back quarters.

Additionally, the Nittany Lions held Ohio State to 256 total yards through four quarters (277.8 yards below season average).

"I think, as the game went on, the fact that we were rotating our defensive line was helpful," head coach James Franklin said. "Like Bob [Shoop] usually does, he gets a feel of some adjustments that he's going to make. Slight adjustments, not really anything we're doing at halftime, just different calls. Mike Hull getting 19 tackles, that's helpful as well. The turnovers; that's something we talked about, trying to get some turnovers to get off the field, helping our defense."

Senior linebacker Mike Hull spearheaded the stout defensive effort on Saturday. Hull notched 19 tackles against the Buckeyes, the most by a Penn State player since the 2011 season. He is now averaging 11.9 tackles per game, which is ranked sixth in the nation and atop the Big Ten.

"I think he should be on every award list right now," Franklin said. "He deserves that. I've been doing this for 20 years. I've coached in a lot of different leagues, even the NFL. The guy is playing at a really, really high level week in and week out. He makes plays from sideline to sideline in the run game and in the pass game. You guys have heard me say this before, but I have a man crush on that guy. I love him. He's a big-time football player."

Collectively, the Nittany Lion defense is ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing defense (No. 3), total defense (No. 7) and scoring defense (No. 9).

Penn State will renew its series with Maryland on Saturday (noon on ESPN2) in a Big Ten East Division matchup.


Hamilton B1G Freshman of the Week
For the second time in 2014, DaeSean Hamilton has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week for his efforts against Ohio State on Saturday. Hamilton tallied 14 receptions against the Buckeyes, breaking the Penn State record for receptions in a game. Hamilton is the nation's top freshman receiver with 57 receptions and 8.1 receptions per game. He is ranked No. 8 overall in the nation in receptions per game and No. 1 in the Big Ten. Hamilton heads into the week just six yards shy of the Penn State freshman receiving record.

Lions in the Stat Rankings
Several Nittany Lions remain among the leaders in national and conference statistical categories. Here is a weekly breakdown of Penn State players in the stat rankings:

QB Christian Hackenberg - Hackenberg is leading the Big Ten in passing yards per game at 265.9 yards per game and completions per game at 23.57. He ranks third in the Big Ten in passing yards at 1,861.

WR DaeSean Hamilton - Hamilton is eighth nationally (first in the Big Ten) in receptions per game (8.1). He ranks 16th in the nation and second in the Big Ten in receiving yards per game at 98.0.

LB Mike Hull - Hull leads the Big Ten and is ninth in the nation in solo tackles per game at 6.7. He is leading in the Big Ten and sixth nationally in total tackles at 11.9 per contest.

K Sam Ficken - Ficken is 10th in the nation and first in the Big Ten in field goals made per game at 1.86.

Early Look at the Terps
Maryland enters the week with a 5-3 overall record and a 2-2 mark in the Big Ten. The Terps suffered a 52-7 setback at Wisconsin on Saturday. In Big Ten play, Maryland has victories over Indiana (37-15) and Iowa (38-31).

Quarterback C.J. Brown is leading the Maryland offense in passing and rushing. Brown has thrown for 1,316 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions. He has rushed for 376 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

Receiver Stefon Diggs is ranked third in the Big Ten in receptions per game at 5.8. Diggs has 46 total receptions for 601 yards and five touchdowns. Diggs is also the Big Ten's kick return leader (25.2 yards per return).  

Maryland is the Big Ten leader in punt returns and third in kickoff returns. Cornerback William Likely is averaging 16.3 yards per return (1 for TD).

Penn State and Maryland will meet for the 38th time on Saturday, but last played in 1993. Penn State is 35-1-1 overall against the Terps.


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

 

By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Before Sunday, Michael Gonzalez was a little used defender who had received only 32 minutes of playing time for the Penn State men's soccer team all season.

Now, he's the player who got the Nittany Lions' season back on track.

Thrust into the starting lineup against Wisconsin, the redshirt junior scored his first career goal on a 30-yard blast in double overtime to give Penn State a much needed 2-1 victory after three straight losses.

"It was a good feeling," Gonzalez said afterwards. "All game we were trying to switch the ball quickly across the field and it was the first time we really did that successfully. I took a big step and they were pretty compact in the back. I figured why not."

Gonzalez found out he was starting a few days earlier when center midfielder Owen Griffith was ruled out with an injury, forcing Mason Klerks to move to midfield and opening up a slot on the backline for the Berwyn, Pa. native.

When head coach Bob Warming made the decision, the first thing he told the defender was to not be afraid to shoot if given the chance.

The reasoning was simple. While Warming and all the Nittany Lions know the strongest part of Gonzalez's game is his shot, the Badgers obviously had no clue, having never faced him before.

"[In practice] we worked on him and I told him, 'Mikey I don't think you're in the scouting report so don't worry about that,'" Warming said with a chuckle. "He can kill a ball. He said to me, 'I get a chance like that to score and I don't, I'm going to be so angry.'"

Gonzalez didn't just score arguably the biggest goal of the Nittany Lions season so far. He also played the game's entire 105 minutes, quite a feat considering he played all of 131 minutes last season.

For someone who ended up as the star of the game in his first career start, the 5-foot-8, 165-pound defender was surprisingly calm and laidback afterwards.

"I don't care who scored. I mean, I'm happy it was me sure, but as long as we won the match that's all that really matters," Gonzalez said. "I've been working hard all year so I was ready. Whether it's your first career start or your 100th career start you get more comfortable as the game goes on."

As modest as he was, the redshirt junior didn't really need to talk about himself. Senior center back Eli Dennis was more than willingly to give him praise.

"He hits balls like that all the time," Dennis said. "As soon as he hit that big touch up, I was saying to myself, 'do it' and I'm so happy he did it."

The moment was certainly great for Gonzalez, but it really can't be overstated how important the win was for the team in general, especially since it came on senior day.

With three straight losses dampening their spirits after a terrific 10-0-1 start, the Lions were less than six minutes away from tying the Badgers before Gonzalez delivered to give his seven graduating teammates a day to remember.

"It's a close-knit group of guys and everyone's really supportive and positive," Gonzalez said. "I was happy to deliver for the team so it was a great feeling."

The stunning finish came after just over 64 minutes of scoreless soccer. While Drew Klingenberg got the Lions on the board early in the 17th minute, the Badgers answered five minutes before halftime with a Joe Naughton shot that deflected off a Penn State defender and trickled by Andrew Wolverton.

For Warming, the game and especially the ending felt particularly familiar.

Last year on senior day against Northwestern, the Lions also went into double overtime tied 1-1 before a Jordan Tyler goal in the 108th minute gave them a 2-1 victory.

"Kind of like Déjà vu," Warming said. "We've got a lot of soccer left, and actually another home game [against Akron on Nov. 5] which will be a big game NCAA seeding wise."

While Warming was happy for his seniors and the entire team in general for getting back in the win column, he was especially pleased for Gonzalez.

After all, it's not everyday that a player getting his first career start wins you a game with a rocket shot in double overtime.

"Those are the kinds of things, you know if Connor [Maloney] scored another goal, everyone would be like, "Oh good goal man, Connor scored again," Warming said. "When a guy who comes off the bench does it, it's whole different emotion for the entire team. Like man, this is great and there's hope for everybody."

VIDEO: #WGYMonday - Meet Chanen Raygoza

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's gymnastics team is just 11 weeks away from opening their 2015 campaign and each Monday we will introduce you to a member of the squad. The second in our #WGYMonday series introduces freshman Chanen Raygoza.


Lions Dominate in First Series Sweep at Pegula

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10474680.jpeg

By Julie Bacanskas, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the clock wound down and the horn sounded Sunday afternoon, the Penn State men's ice hockey team jumped onto the ice in celebration.

The Lions had not only just emerged victoriously over Holy Cross, but they also earned their first series sweep at Pegula Ice Arena.

Friday night, the Lions (3-1-2) came away with a 3-1 win over the Crusaders (1-4-1). Following a day of rest, the Blue and White turned in an even more dominant performance in the second game, defeating Holy Cross, 7-1.

"Both of these, we came into the third in a tight game and ended up pulling away," said head coach Guy Gadowsky. "I thought that's a big step. Obviously, you don't get a grade for mental toughness on two games alone, but it certainly is a nice step to show the guys they can have confidence and they can do it."

Over the course of the weekend, the Lions saw goals from seven different student-athletes. Casey Bailey, Eric Scheid and Scott Conway accounted for six of the 10 goals scored.

"They don't write up how the goal is on the score sheet, so pretty much just getting your name on there is good, but I think having those pretty ones definitely gives you confidence," Bailey said following Sunday's game. "I think, for our line, that was a full line goal. It gives our line confidence. I mean, obviously to get that one off Conway's back is huge for him, and Loik's power play goal was probably a good step in the right direction."

Richard - No Goal

Even with an array of scoring, the Lions had a tough break Friday evening.

As the first period was coming to an end, Dylan Richard made a beautiful play, kept his focus on the net and beat the Crusaders' goalie, appearing to break up the scoreless game.

Moments later, the officials reviewed the call, disallowed the goal and sent Richard to the box for goaltender interference.

"That was a weird play, but I guess I got it around our blue line," explained Richard. "It was nice back pressure by Rick [DeRosa] and Scooter [Conway] there. I mean, I just chipped it by the D-man, made a slip passed him, opened the net and tucked it around the goalie.

"I didn't think I interfered with him enough to cause a penalty and disallow the goal, but I know that's a point of emphasis this year with the refs. It's a tough break, but we managed. I was just laughing because it's a tough break and you can't do much about it."

Gadowsky's thoughts on the disallowed goal were clear. The coach was very animated when discussing the play with the referees as he tried to understand why his team was suddenly on the penalty kill for what he believed to be a beautiful play.

"The explanation was that right now in the NCAA, a point of emphasis is goaltender interference," Gadowsky said. "The explanation was that Dylan Richard interfered with the goaltender. I don't agree with that at all, and I'm very anxious to see what the league says about it after they see the tape. To me, that was probably the prettiest goal we've scored all year."

Conway - First NCAA Goal


Quickly skating into the offensive zone during the third period of Sunday afternoon's game, Scott Conway had the puck on his stick and determination on his side.

The forward, who had already notched two assists, was hungry for his first collegiate goal.

He skated at the defender, pushing the puck left while moving right, and then took off toward the Holy Cross net. Conway placed the puck perfectly in the upper corner, giving Penn State a four-goal lead.

"I remember getting the pass from [Eric] Scheid as I tried to split the D there," explained Conway. "I didn't quite do it, so I just tried to beat the guy so I could just try to push it forward. Then he got confused, I think, and couldn't find the puck.

"I ended up on the puck side. The goalie slid over a little too far, so I brought it back to the other side and luckily it went in."

Mere minutes later, the freshman buried a second goal on the power play, sealing Holy Cross's fate and the series sweep.

In a game filled with impressive goal scoring by all, Conway's first NCAA goal did not disappoint.

"That was actually a big time goal," said Gadowsky. "He's got such quick hands and a real hunger to score. You saw it on that play. That was a big time goal."

Conway turned in a four-point performance in the series' second game, giving Penn State fans a glimpse of his skill level and hockey sense.

Friedman - First Goal Against an NCAA Team

Senior Jacob Friedman laced up his skates and took the ice Sunday for his first game of the season.

He was sure to make the most of his ice time.

Just over two minutes after celebrating Conway's tally, fans in Pegula Ice Arena once again rose to their feet to applaud another goal, Friedman's first against an NCAA Division I team.

"You can't find a better locker room guy, and I think there's not a guy on the team that doesn't love him," said Bailey of his teammate. "I think when you see a guy like that who is always working hard, he does everything the coach asks and he finally gets one in after all these years of trying. I think he's had all the opportunities, plays well, and I think it gets the guys excited for sure."

Friedman's last Nittany Lion goal came during the 2012-'13 season. Last year, he posted two assists.

Holding the puck Friedman scored with in his hands, Gadowsky could not say enough about the team's excitement for the senior.

"It's not often the bench goes nuts in a 5-1, 6-1 game, but the bench was so pumped for him," Gadowsky said. "He is just such a tremendous teammate and such a tremendous person. I guarantee every guy on the team was so excited for him, more than even when they score themselves.

"The whole team was just so pumped that he scored. He's such a great person. He's such a great teammate. That was awesome to see."

Two Weekend Wins Propel Lions to Big Ten Title

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10474446.jpegBy Miranda Kulp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The seventh-ranked Nittany Lion women's soccer team added to its Big Ten legacy on Sunday when the Lions capped off a weekend sweep over Nebraska and Iowa to earn their 16th regular season title in the last 17 seasons.

Penn State knocked off Nebraska on Friday, 3-1, and then kept the momentum going with a 2-1 comeback victory over Iowa on the team's Senior Day Sunday afternoon to clinch the program's third outright conference title in the last four years.

"The team plays best at Jeffrey field. These players want to play here and that's what this weekend has been all about," said head coach Erica Walsh.

Heading into the final week of the regular season, the Nittany Lions improved to 16-2 overall and 11-1 in Big Ten matches after both wins this weekend.

With a young team of 11 freshmen and only four seniors leading the Lions, the weekend matches demonstrated what makes this group unique - valiant team efforts from both the underclassman and the veteran players.

During Friday's victory over the Cornhuskers, freshman Haleigh Echard scored her first goal for Penn State.

"Bringing Haleigh in was great because she keeps getting better and better. You can see a new confidence in her now when she plays," said coach Walsh.

Echard's goal helped the Lions secure a 3-1 win over the Huskers.

"The goal definitely meant a lot since it was my first goal. Being able to get the ball from our senior captain with an open net was just overwhelming with emotions," said Echard.

Being one of the new contributors on the team, Echard credited the seniors in helping make her first tally possible.

"I'm really excited for these younger players since they make such a difference," said senior Emily Hurd.

"That was Haleigh's first goal, and what a way to get it by doing it on Jeffrey Field against the team that knocked us out of Big Ten Championship last year," Hurd said.

Going off of the excitement of Friday night's win, the team stayed focused as they hosted Iowa in the second Big Ten match of the weekend on Sunday.

During the sixth minute, the Hawkeyes notched a goal off of a corner kick to get on the board. Using the early marker as motivation, Penn State was determined to bounce back.

Trailing Iowa, 1-0, in the early moments of the second half, senior Kori Chapic was not going to be denied. Chapic notched two goals in a span of 5:22 to lead the Nittany Lions to a Senior Day triumph while clinching the Big Ten title.

"It's so nice to play with these girls. This team is the closest team I've ever played with at Penn State and to win the title makes me feel extremely blessed," said Kori Chapic. "I want to leave a little pride with the No. 14. It's my senior year I want to make sure I give it my everything and continue to be a leader for the younger players."

Topping off a tremendous Senior Day, Chapic's efforts alongside Emily Ogle, Salina Williford's two assists apiece characterized a complete team effort to put icing on the cake of a comeback victory and another Big Ten title.

Going from freshman Echard's first career goal on Friday to senior Chapic's outstanding performance on Sunday, the weekend illustrated the depth and talent of the 2014 Big Ten champion Penn State women's soccer team.

"It epitomizes this year. This season we have had both freshman and senior heroes and the entire team lifts each other up. We have an extremely close team and to see them earn this title is incredible," said coach Walsh.

'Dig Pink' Match Highlights Weekend Sweep

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10474428.jpegBy Anita Nham, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following two wins on the road against Purdue and Indiana, the Nittany Lions returned home to Rec Hall this weekend to welcome Big Ten conference opponents, Michigan and Michigan State. Penn State continued to build on momentum from the road matches to finish the weekend off with two victories.

Though most of Happy Valley was concerned about Saturday's White Out, the volleyball team focused on a different color. Penn State teamed up with Side-Out Foundation in Friday evening's match against Michigan to feature the annual "Dig Pink" match in support of breast cancer research.

Established in 2004, the Side-Out Foundation is a support and advocacy organization that unites volleyball players and coaches to have them work toward the common goal of furthering breast cancer awareness, education, and patient services.

Friday was the seventh consecutive year that Penn State has held the "Dig Pink" match, and they have raised nearly $6,000 for the Side-Out Foundation.

"I think it's important for all the players to get involved in different causes," said head coach Russ Rose. "I think it's something that gets a lot of people and it's great that we're part of a special evening." 

Freshman Haleigh Washington echoed her coach in support of breast cancer awareness.

"I think it was fun and I thought it was nice that [us and Michigan] were all united in a cause," said Washington. "Michigan had pink on their warmup [jerseys], too, and it was kind of interesting to see that even though we're two opponents playing against each other, we are still united in a cause, and there are still things that brings us together as a community. It was inspiring and it was energetic and it was fun."

The Nittany Lions swept Michigan in three sets (25-18, 25-16, 25-16) in front of the biggest home crowd the team has seen all season. The crowd also came out to support the cause for breast cancer awareness as it was impossible to look anywhere without seeing any pink. The atmosphere was filled pink pom-poms, rally towels, wrecking crew hats, and pink T-shirts.

"I thought [the energy] was ecstatic," said Washington. "I love having a big crowd. I think it's fun. I think it makes Rec Hall even more home...The support is awesome because you know that whether you're hitting the ball into the net or bouncing the ball at the 10-foot line, the [crowd's] got your back and they're ready to support you. It's awesome."

Teammate and fellow freshman Ali Frantti played in her first "Dig Pink" match alongside Washington and had a great time.

"It was a big crowd tonight and I think it was just fun," said Frantti.

Frantii and Washington were huge components in Friday's match as they each recorded double-digit kills. Frantti had 15 kills on .429 kitting and Washington had 10 kills on .421 hitting, while also logging four blocks.

"I love playing with Haleigh, especially," said Frantti. "She's passionate and I would be off without her."

Penn State took on Michigan State Saturday evening and came out with its 20th victory of the season with a sweep (26-24, 25-17, 25-21).

Senior Micha Hancock recorded 33 assists, five digs, four kills, and a match-high of four aces.

Redshirt junior Aiyana Whitney led the team with 12 kills on .364 hitting and Frantti got 11 kills on .409 hitting.

There are 10 more matches in the conference season, but there is still much to be done.

"As Coach Paterno used to say, 'You're not as good as you think you are when you win or as bad as you think you are when you lose,'" said coach Rose.

Penn State will have a quick turnaround with Ohio State coming to Rec Hall on Tuesday for an 8 p.m.

Men's Hockey Blog - PSU vs. Holy Cross (10/26)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to GoPSUsports.com's live, interactive coverage of Penn State men's hockey. This afternoon, the Nittany Lions close their series against Holy Cross.


Live Blog Penn State Men's Hockey Blog - vs. Holy Cross (10/26/14)
 

VIDEO: James Franklin Postgame vs. Ohio State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin addresses the media following Saturday's 31-24 (2OT) setback to No. 13 Ohio State in Beaver Stadium.

VIDEO: Postgame Player Interviews - Ohio State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Several Nittany Lions address the media following Saturday's 31-24 (2OT) setback to No. 13 Ohio State in Beaver Stadium.