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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 16 Penn State will travel to East Lansing, Michigan for its final regular season road series of the year in a crucial matchup against Michigan State.
Penn State is coming off a bye week that couldn't have come at a better time. Following a physical series with top-ranked Notre Dame nine days ago, the Nittany Lions capitalized on some extra time off this past week, getting a head start in preparing for their upcoming series with the Spartans.
"We worked really hard during the week," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "Friday was a really good day in the weight room and on the ice for us. The rest was both well earned and well needed."
For the Nittany Lions, the week off allowed for both added practice and some extra recovery before jumping back into competition.
"We're looking forward to another good week this week," Gadowsky said. "There are four really big games left in the conference and we hope this break helps."
Senior defensemen Trevor Hamilton noted the Nittany Lions took full advantage of the bye week.
"It's a huge advantage for us right now," Hamilton said. "We're going through some struggles with everyone getting sick and injured, so it's definitely nice to relax and just take care of some maintenance things."
Hamilton, who grew up not far from East Lansing in Grosse Pointe Farms, is looking forward to the opportunity to return home and play in front of his friends and family.
"It's always fun going back to Michigan," Hamilton said. "My family usually can't come out here to watch me play, so it's nice to be able to go see them. I'm really excited."
Hamilton has seen success against Michigan State this year, having scored a game-tying goal with :34 seconds remaining in the final game of the series at Pegula Ice Arena in late November. He also added an assist in game one the night before.
Penn State took the first game of the Michigan State series, 7-2, tying a season-high mark for goals. Despite the earlier success against the Spartans, Penn State isn't taking anything for granted headed down the stretch of the regular season.
"No game is easy in the Big Ten," Hamilton said. "This year it has been one of the best conferences in hockey. We realize what's at hand here with the last four regular season games."
Gadowsky noted a point of emphasis for the team this weekend is getting shots on net. Penn State's ability to create chances was evident against Notre Dame, as the Nittany Lions rattled off a combined 108 shots over the course of the weekend.
"We were able to generate consistent chances on offense for most of the periods of that weekend and that's something we'd love to see going forward," Gadowsky said. "Obviously we played a great goaltender, but if we play that way and get those chances, we feel good about what can happen. "