By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Winning is always the goal in any level of sport, however there is something to be said for playing a complete game, regardless of the result.
For Penn State, going up against the second ranked team in the CHA conference in Syracuse, the Nittany Lions compiled two nights of solid hockey, falling just short on both occasions. Despite a 3-2 loss in overtime and a 2-1 regulation loss the following day, Penn State showed why they may be peaking at the right time.
"I think with four games left, every single one is important," said Amy Petersen after Saturday's game. "We played well this weekend but I think the goal is to obviously still get better and peak during the playoffs. We are going to use these next four games to get better each and every game."
The 2016 calendar year has been particularly kind to the Nittany Lions. The team has certainly stepped up their level of play and have remedied their biggest issue of capitalizing on scoring chances.
"I think things have really started falling in to place more," said Petersen. "We have been sticking to our game plan and we have really been working on finishing pucks because in the first half of the season we couldn't get a puck to fall, now we have started to get those bounces."
For every team, the goal is to obviously play your best hockey come playoff time. However, this is a lot easier said than done for most teams. It is hard to plan exactly when you are going to start playing your best, you just have to hope that it comes at the right time to kick-start a long playoff run. For Penn State, with four games left, the emphasis is on getting better every game so that come the CHA playoffs, they will be ready to go.
"I don't think we feel any added pressure to get better just because the playoffs are close," said Laura Bowman. "We are going to use each of these next games to try and get better."
In the playoffs the compete level of each team is ratcheted up that much more due to the increased importance placed on each game. It is extremely hard to recreate this level of intensity in anything other than a game-like setting, however the Nittany Lions have said they have increased the intensity at practices so that they are more ready come playoff time.
"We have started to work really hard," said Bowman. "Every practice has been really intense, we've certainly competed very hard and I think that has helped our play on the ice."
The effort in game one against Syracuse was good, but according to head coach Josh Brandwene, game two was that much better, again showing that the Nittany Lions are certainly starting to figure things out and while they may not have hit their peak yet, they certainly are heading in the right direction.
"We played better today," said Brandwene. "We played much better in all periods than we did yesterday so there is just so much to build on moving forward."
For the Nittany Lions, moving forward they have only four games left in the regular season. Two are at home against Lindenwood and their final regular season series is on the road against Mercyhurst. The team's final home series and will be this weekend against Lindenwood, puck drop will be 7 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday.