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2017 NCAA Tournament Bracket
GAME DAY CENTRAL
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
CINCINNATI, Ohio – The 11th-ranked Penn State men’s ice hockey team enters their first-ever NCAA Tournament as the No. 9 overall seed and will battle eighth-seeded Union College (N.Y.) at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday March 25, 2017 in the second semifinal of the Midwest Regional.
Saturday’s game is available on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app and the winner will move on to face either No. 1 overall seed Denver or No. 16 overall seed Michigan Tech in the Midwest Regional Final on Sunday at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.
THIS WEEK’S MATCHUP
- Penn State meets Union College (N.Y.) in their first-ever NCAA Tournament game at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio as part of the Midwest Regional
- The Nittany Lions are the No. 9 overall seed and No. 3 seed in the region while the Dutchmen are the overall No. 8 seed of the 16-team tournament and the No. 2 seed in the regional.
- Penn State has never defeated Union as they are 0-4-0 in their brief history. Both teams met twice in each of the first two seasons of the Nittany Lions NCAA era.
- After being outscored 6-1 during their 2012 series including a 2-0 shutout in their first-ever meeting on November 24, 2012 the next two games were decided by a late third period goal including one with just three seconds remaining on December 1, 2013. Penn State led 4-1 midway through the second period in that game only to see Union score four unanswered goals to escape Happy Valley with the sweep.
- Penn State played the equivalent of four games (240:16) in a span of 52 hours last weekend to capture their first-ever Big Ten Tournament Championship.
WOLVERINES AND GOPHERS AND BADGERS OH MY
- The Nittany lions needed just 60 minutes to defeat Michigan 4-1 in the quarterfinals, but then took each of the next two games to double-overtime before escaping with a win.
- Their semifinal victory against Minnesota lasted 93:33, which is the longest game in the history of the Big Ten and ranks 40th on the list of longest college hockey games ever.
- The next night they then needed 86:43 to down the Badgers and in doing so the Nittany Lions have now played in each of the three longest games in the history of the Big Ten when you add in their double-overtime 2-1 thriller in the first-ever Big Ten Tournament game against Michigan on March 20, 2014.
- Penn State became the first team in the history of the tournament to win the whole thing by playing three consecutive games and in doing so beat three of the most storied programs in all of college hockey who hold a combined 20 National Titles between them.
THAT’S IT AND THAT’S ALL FOLKES
- Freshman Liam Folkes was inserted into the lineup this weekend and took full advantage as he scored three goals over the course of the three games to double his season total to six.
- The rookie landed on the All-Tournament team after scoring both goals including the breakaway game-winner in double-overtime of the Big Ten Championship against Wisconsin.
- Not to be outdone is the hustle by line mate Brandon Biro who had the assist on each of Folkes’ three goals this weekend and his blue-line to blue-line pass against Wisconsin sent Folkes in all alone.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
- Penn State’s 2-1 victory against the Badgers marked their first win when scoring two goals or less so far this season. With a pair of one-goal victories last weekend the Nittany Lions improved to 3-3-2 in games decided by one goal or less.
STRIKING UP A CONVERSATION - MR. JONES
- Freshman Peyton Jones has been sensational all season, but last weekend on the biggest stage of his young career the rookie goaltender really flourished. Jones was named the Big Ten Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and with good reason.
- Jones stopped 118-of-123 shots over the weekend as he played all 240:16 minutes to register a 1.25 goals against average and a .959 save percentage.
- Jones made 30+ saves each game including a career-high 51 on Saturday against the Badgers. That total ranks as the second highest by a PSU net-minder only behind the 52 from Matt Skoff against Michigan in that previously longest Big Ten game against Michigan on March 20, 2014.
- Jones was also selected as a Big Ten Conference Honorable Mention as well as an All-Freshman Team member earlier this month.
RUSSIA’S FINEST IMPORT
- Freshman Denis Smirnov has completely shattered the Penn State record books this season setting a new single season points (45) and assists (28) record, both of which are also single-season freshman records. The Moscow, Russia native is also just one goal shy of tying Andrew Sturtz’ single-season freshman goals record of 18.
- Smirnov’s 45 points are 15th in the nation, but first nationally amongst first-year players while his 28 assists rank second in the country for freshman and tied for 16th overall.
- Last weekend Smirnov had the primary assist on both the game-winning goals against Michigan and the double-overtime game-winner against Minnesota in the semifinals.
- Along with Smirnov, freshman classmate Nate Sucese is also just the seventh player in Penn State history to record a 30-point season as the rookie currently has 32 points on 15 goals and 17 assists.
- Ten freshman have registered at least one-point for the Nittany Lions this season including Jones who tied the single-season goalie record for assists with two.
- Penn State leads the entire nation in freshman scoring as 140 of their points have come from rookies on 55 goals and 85 assists. They average 3.78 points per game from their freshman and are 22-7-1 on the season when a freshman scores. In just five games this season the first-year crop of players has been kept out of the net by the opposition.
- Penn State has scored 147 goals while adding 248 assists for 395 points so far this season, all of which are new single-season program-highs and rank second in the nation only to Ohio State.
- The Nittany Lions also lead the nation with 1,659 shots on goal while averaging 44.84 shots per game, also new single-season records.
- PSU’s 3.97 goals per game is also a new single-season program record and ranks tied for second in the nation.
BLUE LINE BEAUTIES
- Just like the freshman class, the defensive unit for Penn State ranks fourth in the nation in scoring with 112 points on 30 goals and 82 assists. Their 30 goals is second only behind the 38 scored by Michigan Tech blue-liners.
- Junior defenseman Erik Autio has missed only six games in his entire career and last weekend scored the game-winning goal in double-overtime against Minnesota to send the Nittany Lions into the Big Ten Championship and solidify an NCAA Tournament berth at the time. Autio was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team.
- Autio leads the entire nation in plus/minus for defensemen with a plus-29 rating, good for third overall. He has been on the ice for 47 of the Nittany Lions’ 147 goals and just 18 goals against.
- Sophomore Vince Pedrie became just the second Nittany Lion and first defenseman to earn First-Team All-Big Ten honors after leading all Big Ten blue-liners in goals with seven while adding 19 assists for 26 points during the regular season.
- Last Thursday in a 4-1 quarterfinal victory over Michigan in the Big Ten tournament, Pedrie blasted the 16th goal of his young career and solidified himself as the most prolific scoring defenseman in program history as he passed Luke Juha’s former record of 15 goals by a defenseman.
- Pedrie’s 29 points and 21 assists this season are both new single-season Penn State records by defenseman while his eight goals tie his own record set last season. His 51 career points currently rank second for a defenseman in program history.
- Pedrie is tied for sixth in the nation with a plus-24 rating and was also named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team last weekend.
GREEN EGGS AND HAMILTON
- Junior Trevor Hamilton leads the entire nation with 104 blocked shots on the season and is also tied for 20th among defensemen with 26 points.
- With six goals and 20 assists the junior ranks second behind Pedrie both in the Big Ten with 26 points and in Penn State single-season history for points by a defenseman. His 11 power-play points on the season is also second to the 12 registered by Pedrie.
MY OH MY-LLARI
- Freshman Kris Myllari ranks third in the Big Ten and 15th in the nation in blocked shots with 80, good for third in the nation amongst rookies.
- The Kanata, Ontario native is also tied for second among all freshman blue-liners with seven goals on the season, a mark good for second in single-season program history by a freshman.
- Union won the 2014 National Championship and is advancing to their fifth NCAA Tournament. The Dutchmen have reached the Frozen Four twice in 2012 and 2014.
- Out of their previous four NCAA Tournament appearances this marks the first time they will play outside of the East in Regional play.
- The Dutchmen concluded their season 25-9-3 overall and bowed out in the ECAC semifinals with a 4-1 setback to Cornell. Union was riding a seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1) entering that contest.
- A pair of Hobey Baker Finalists lead the Dutchmen into the tournament as Mike Vecchione is third in the nation with 62 points (29 goals, 33 assists) right ahead of teammate Spencer Foo who has 60 points (24 goals, 36 assists).
- Senior Alex Sakellaropoulous has started 29 games this season securing a 22-5-2 record with a 2.42 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.
- Union is tied for fourth in the nation with 140 goals scored on the season and rank 26th in goals allowed with 103. The Dutchmen also rank 12th in the nation averaging 33.24 shots per game.
- Union’s power play ranks 14th in the nation at 20.9 percent (40-for-191) while their PK is subpar at 36th, 81.8 percent (128-for-157).