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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Coming off a historic season, the Penn State men’s ice hockey team announced its 2017-18 schedule on Thursday afternoon. With the addition of Notre Dame to the Big Ten, next year’s slate includes 24 conference games and 10 non-conference games.
“With the addition of Notre Dame to the Big Ten we are adding four tough games against a 2017 Frozen Four team and a perennial hockey giant,” commented Head Coach Guy Gadowsky. “This will make an already extremely competitive league that much more challenging.”
The Nittany Lions finished the 2016-17 season at 25-12-2 and ranked No. 8 in the final uscho.com poll marking their first ever top-20 finish at years end. The Big Ten Tournament Champions will open the 2017-18 season against the University of Ottawa in the third installment of the International Game on Sunday, October 1.
The regular season begins one week later with a trip to upstate New York to battle a pair of ECAC foes as the Nittany Lions take on Clarkson (Oct. 6) and St. Lawrence (Oct. 7) in road contests during the opening weekend of play.
Penn State remains on the road the following weekend as they open Big Ten Conference play at Mariucci against Minnesota on October 12-13 before returning home for their home opener on Thursday, October 19 against the American International College Yellow Jackets. The Lions close the series against AIC the following day and remain home for the next two weeks as Michigan (Oct. 27-28) and Mercyhurst (Nov. 3-4) come to town.
The following two weeks see the Nittany Lions on the road with trips to Notre Dame (Nov. 10-11) and Arizona State (Nov. 17-18). PSU then returns to Hockey Valley for Thanksgiving weekend as they host Michigan State (Nov. 24-25).
The Blue and White conclude the first semester of play with a trip to Columbus to battle Ohio State (Dec. 1-2) and a home-and-home series with Robert Morris as Penn State travels to Pittsburgh on Friday, December 9 and the Colonials turn around and visit Pegula Ice Arena the following night.
Penn State will then have a 26 day break for finals and the holidays before returning to action with four straight home games against Wisconsin (Jan. 5-6) and Ohio State (Jan. 12-13). The Nittany Lions then hit the road the next two weeks traveling to Michigan (Jan. 19-20) and Wisconsin (Jan. 26-27).
PSU returns home to begin February with a weekend set against Notre Dame (Feb. 2-3) and then following a bye week the Lions conclude their regular season travel when they head to East Lansing for a pair against Michigan State (Feb. 16-17).
Penn State concludes the regular season at home against Minnesota (Feb. 23-24).
With the addition of the Fighting Irish, the Big Ten changed its playoff format beginning next year as all rounds will be moved to campus sites. The regular season champion will receive a first round bye and the remaining six teams will play a best-of-three series on the campus of the higher seeded team. This first round of action is scheduled for March 2-4.
The remainder of the tournament will be played as single elimination; the semifinals will be played Saturday March 10 with the Big Ten Championship being played the following weekend.
“With postseason play moving to on campus sites this allows us the ability to take advantage of the great facilities offered in the Big Ten,” mentioned Gadowsky. “We look forward to the challenge of competing against the icons of college hockey for the opportunity to bring postseason play to Pegula Ice Arena.”
Including Notre Dame, the Big Ten saw five of its seven teams ranked inside the final uscho.com top-20 with four making the NCAA Tournament. The Irish led the way at No. 5 followed by Minnesota and Penn State at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively. Ohio State finished the season ranked No. 14 while Wisconsin concluded 2016-17 just outside of reaching the NCAA Tournament at No. 17.
All dates are subject to change with times and television schedule being announced at a later date.