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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – After securing its second-straight NCAA Tournament berth, the Penn State men’s ice hockey team finished the season ranked No. 13 in both the final USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine national polls released earlier Monday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions began the season ranked No. 10 after finishing the 2016-17 campaign ranked eighth in both polls. Penn State got off to a rocky start even falling from the rankings for the final three weeks of November before rebounding to go on an 11-game unbeaten streak and climb to as high as No. 12 at the beginning of January.
Penn State remained ranked throughout the duration of the regular season and into the playoffs using four-straight victories over Minnesota to climb up the pairwise and earn its first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after solidifying the automatic qualifier last season for winning the 2017 Big Ten Tournament.
The Nittany Lions have been ranked for 42-of-48 weeks over the last two seasons in the USCHO.com poll including 26 straight weeks from October 24, 2016 through November 6, 2017, marking the longest stretch in program history. Penn State finished the year 18-15-5 bowing out to Denver in the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinals.
In total, five of the seven Big Ten teams appear ranked on the final USCHO.com poll for 2017-18 including three in the top-4 with Notre Dame ranked second after falling to Minnesota-Duluth in the National Championship game and Ohio State and Michigan ranked third and fourth, respectively, after each earning a trip to the Frozen Four. Minnesota rounds out the Big Ten ranked No. 18 after narrowly missing out on an NCAA Tournament berth of its own.
The Nittany Lions will return 21 players from the 2017-18 roster for next season including 10 of their top-12 scorers as they look to contend for a second Big Ten Championship and earn a third-straight NCAA Tournament berth when the puck drops in October.