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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Following their most successful season in program history the Penn State men’s ice hockey team earns a final ranking of No. 8 in both major polls for the 2016-17 season as announced earlier Monday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions earned an automatic bid to their first-ever NCAA Tournament after defeating Wisconsin 2-1 in double-overtime to capture the Big Ten Tournament Championship at Joe Louis Arena in March.
Penn State earned the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Regional and defeated second-seeded Union College (NY), 10-3, before falling to eventual National Champion and No. 1 overall seed Denver, 6-3, the following night.
Penn State finished the season 25-12-2 earning its highest-ever final ranking with 610 voter points after entering the postseason ranked eleventh. PSU is one of four Big Ten teams to finish the season ranked in the uscho.com poll as Minnesota (No. 7), Ohio State (No. 14) and Wisconsin (No. 17) all crack the top-20 with future Big Ten opponent Notre Dame coming in at No. 5.
The Nittany Lions’ season featured many program firsts including their first-ever No. 1 national ranking, their first Big Ten Tournament Championship and their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance and NCAA Tournament victory.
Along with all the firsts, Penn State also broke or tied 65 program records including most wins (25), points (425), goals (160), goals per game (4.10), assists (265), shots (1,719) and shots per game (44.1) in a season among many others.
A pair of freshman classmates also turned in two of the best seasons in program history for a skater and goaltender. Freshman forward Denis Smirnov (Moscow, Russia) set new single-season records for points (47) and assists (28) while tying the record for game-winning goals with four. The rookie also set new Penn State freshman records for points and assists while tying the record for goals with 18.
Freshman Peyton Jones (Langhorne, Pa.) rewrote the single-season record book for a net-minder by starting and playing in 36 games securing 23 wins with 884 saves, all of which are new single-season benchmarks for the Blue and White. His two shutouts also tie the single-season PSU record.
Former defenseman Vince Pedrie (Rochester, Minn.), who signed a two-way deal with the New York Rangers earlier this offseason, also rewrote the record books for Penn State blue-liners throughout the course of the season.
Pedrie’s 30 points and 22 assists are new single-season records for a defenseman while his eight goals tie his own record set as a freshman. His 16 total goals in just two seasons are also a career benchmark for Penn State blue-liners passing the previous mark of 15.
Other notable records that were broken are the plus-33 rating of junior defenseman Erik Autio (Espoo, Finland), the 147 career games played by senior David Goodwin (St. Louis, Mo.), the 93:33 it took to defeat Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals marking the longest game in B1G/program history, and the nine seconds it took senior Dylan Richard (Sherwood Park, Alberta) and sophomore Chase Berger (St. Louis, Mo.) to score back-to-back goals in the third period against Michigan State.
Also the 13-game unbeaten streak, 11-game winning streak and 12-game home winning streak, the 10-game point streaks of Smirnov and Goodwin, the eight game point/assist streak for a defenseman from junior Trevor Hamilton (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.), the 31 shots against Canisius in the first period on October 28 and the four points by freshman Nate Sucese (Fairport, N.Y.) in the third period against Union in the Midwest Regional Semifinals among other records.