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GAME DAY CENTRAL
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Penn State Notre Dame
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The 17th-ranked Penn State men’s ice hockey team welcomes No. 2 Notre Dame to campus this weekend for a pair of crucial Big Ten matchups against the conference leading Fighting Irish on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.
HOW TO WATCH
- Friday’s contest is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. puck drop and will air live on the Big Ten Network while Saturday’s matchup is slated for a 4 p.m. start and is available on BTN-Plus.
THIS WEEK’S MATCHUP
- The Nittany Lions enter the weekend on a five-game winless streak after going unbeaten in their previous 11 games.
- The Irish are also reeling in a sense of having been shutout in two of their last three games after a 16-game winning-streak, but remain 11 points clear of second place Ohio State in the Big Ten standings.
- This weekend marks just the seventh and eighth matchup between the two schools as Notre Dame joined the Big Ten at the beginning of the season coming over from Hockey East.
- After sweeping Penn State, Notre Dame now leads the all-time series 3-2-1.
SCOUTING NOTRE DAME
- Notre Dame enters the weekend No. 1 in the Pairwise and No. 2 in the nation at 20-5-1 overall.
- The Irish lead the Big Ten 11 points clear of second place Ohio State with 42 points and a 14-2-0 record winning their first 13 conference games to start the season.
- Notre Dame boasts the third best defense in the nation behind only Cornell and Clarkson allowing just 1.96 goals per game. The Irish offense sputters at times, but ranks 23rd in the nation scoring 3.04 goals per game, fifth in the Big Ten.
- Jake Evans leads the team with 31 points on nine goals and 22 assists to rank tied for 2nd in the Big Ten and 13th in the nation. Evans is also a plus-14 this season ranking second in the Big Ten and tied for 12th in the nation.
- Cal Burke leads Notre Dame with 12 goals while Andrew Oglevie is second with 10 as the only two double-digit goal scorers so far this season for the Irish.
- Cale Morris leads the entire nation in save percentage at .952 and is third in goals against average allowing 1.61 goals per contest. Morris has started all but four games for the Irish this season posting a 19-3-0 record with two of those losses coming in the last two weekends.
- Notre Dame has been successful on the power-play this season ranking first in the Big Ten and 17th in the nation converting 19-of-88 (21.6 percent) opportunities. The Irish PK has also been impressive leading the Big Ten and ranking fifth in the entire nation at 87.5 percent (77-for-88). The 11 power-play goals allowed is the third fewest in all of Division I.
- Sophomore Denis Smirnov contributed 50 percent of the Penn State offense last weekend against Wisconsin as he scored three goals to grab the team lead with 13 on the season, which is tied for third in the Big Ten.
- Smirnov also registered his 20th career multi-point effort and the 6th multi-goal game of his career during the 4-4 tie on Saturday evening.
- On Friday, Smirnov scored a power-play goal giving him six on the season to tie a Penn State single-season record for power-play tallies and tie for third in the Big Ten this season.
- With 69 career points Smirnov also moved into a tie with David Glen ‘16 for seventh on Penn State’s all-time points list while his 32 career goals now rank sixth all-time.
FROM START TO FINNISH
- Senior Erik Autio has been a mainstay on the blue-line during his time in Happy Valley and currently ranks fourth all-time in games played with 129 and has a chance to climb as high as second by the end of the season.
- Last weekend the Finnish born player snapped a personal six-game (13 total games, missed seven with injury) pointless streak with an assist on a Denis Smirnov goal on Friday.
- With the assist Autio tied Luke Juha ‘16 for fourth on the Penn State all-time assists list and first among Nittany Lion defensemen with 45.
- Autio’s 52 points also tie longtime defensive partner Vince Pedrie for second on the all-time points list for defensemen.
- Since the calendar turned to 2018, Penn State leads the nation with 157 blocked shots in eight games averaging 19.62 blocks per game, which also leads the nation.
- A big part of that has been the play of Trevor Hamilton and Cole Hults who rank first and second in the nation during that span with 27 and 24 blocks, respectively.
- In fact Hamilton leads the entire country in blocked shots on the season with 72 while Kris Myllari ranks 5th in the Big Ten and tied for 13th nationally with 55 blocked shots.
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR
- Penn State entered last weekend unbeaten when holding a lead entering the third period as they were 12-0-2 in such games on the year and had been unbeaten in 17 straight games dating back to last season when taking a lead into the second intermission. Penn State went 20-3-2 overall in games when leading after two periods in 2016-17.
- However, Wisconsin outscored Penn State by a combined 6-1 score over the final 20 minutes last weekend as they lit the lamp three times during each third period.
- On the season Penn State is now being outscored in the third period 39-34 while Notre Dame is outscoring its opponents 30-18 in the third period this season.
HOTTEST TICKET IN TOWN
- Penn State has sold out 70 consecutive games at Pegula Ice Arena and 85 of 87 total contests since the building opened its doors for the start of the 2013-14 season.
- With tickets being exhausted again this weekend the Nittany Lions look to run their sellout streak to 72 games come Saturday night.
- Verified resale tickets are available by visiting ticketmaster.com as there are seats posted for both Friday and Saturday’s
BETTER AT THE DOT
- Since the last time these two teams faced each other Penn State has improved its play at the faceoff circle winning 51.7 percent of draws since November 17 to rank 15th in the nation over that stretch and second in the Big Ten.
- The Irish have won 51.3 percent of face-offs ranking fifth in the Big Ten and 22nd nationally since November 17.
- During this five-game winless streak the Nittany Lions haven’t had many bounces go in their favor including ringing a total of five shots off the posts during the last three games alone.
BAD BOYS, BAD BOYS WHAT’CHA GONNA DO?
- Last Saturday both Penn State and Wisconsin were whistled for 12 penalties and 24 minutes each. This marked the fifth time this season Penn State has had at least 20 penalty minutes in a game and the second against the Badgers.
- The Nittany Lions have been handed 20-plus penalty minutes 30 times in program history, but the 12 penalties are the second most all-time and the most in a single-game since Penn State’s inaugural season in 2012-13 when they received 15 penalties against Buffalo State and 12 against Holy Cross.
- Penn State has a week off before heading to Michigan State for a weekend series on February 16-17. Both games will air live on the Big Ten Network.