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(1-1-2 Atlantic Hockey)
GAME DAY CENTRAL
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INSIDE THE NUMBERS
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The No. 17 Penn State Nittany Lions conclude their six-game homestand as they welcome Mercyhurst University to Pegula Ice Arena for a pair of 7 p.m. contests on Friday and Saturday evening.
TRAFFIC & TICKETS
- Patrons attending the Friday night contest should be aware of possible traffic congestion and a higher volumne of parking in the general lots as Bellator 186 will be taking place across the street at the Bryce Jordan Center beginning at 6:30 p.m.
- Fans should always be aware that even though tickets may be sold out, verified resale tickets are usually available on ticketmaster.com and standing room only seats can be purchased by calling 1-800-NITTANY.
THIS WEEK’S MATCHUP
- Penn State and Mercyhurst meet for just the second and third times in program history this weekend. Penn State won the lone matchup last season, 7-0, in Erie.
- This marks the first time the two schools have met in Happy Valley at Pegula Ice Arena.
- Nikita Pavlychev, Denis Smirnov and Trevor Hamilton each registered their first career goals against the Lakers last season while Nate Sucese scored twice.
- Last season’s 7-0 victory sparked a 13-game unbeaten streak for the Nittany Lions, which remains a program record.
- The Lakers finished last season 15-20-4 overall and 11-13-4 in Atlantic Hockey Conference action. Mercyhurst was defeated by Army West Point in three games during the Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals after sweeping AIC in the opening round.
- The Lakers are 2-2-2 overall so far this season and 1-1-2 on the road.
- The Lakers return their top-8 scorers from last season’s roster including both double-digit goal scorers in Jonathan Charbonneau (16) and Taylor Best (10) along with 30-point scorer Derek Barach (9-28-37).
- Mercyhurst also returns its top goaltender from a year ago in senior Brandon Wildung who went 9-12-2 with a .908 save percentage and a 3.08 goals against average last season. So far this season Wildung has posted a .933 save percentage and a 2.13 goals against average, good for 12th and 22nd in the nation, respectively.
- Junior defenseman Lester Lancaster leads the team with six point early in the season on one goal and five assists while Taylor Best holds the team lead in goals with three and his five points match three other players for second on the team.
- The Lakers have scored 11 of their 16 goals with the man-advantage this season and rank 4th in the country converting at 32.4 percent. Their 11 power-play goals are also good for second in the nation.
- In their last two victories a 4-1 win against Ferris State and a 2-0 victory over Bentley, the Lakers have scored all six of those goals with the man-advantage. Mercyhurst has scored at least one power-play goal in five straight contests.
- Mercyhurst has scored half of its 16 goals in the third period outscoring opponents 8-4 over the final 20 minutes of play.
- Freshman Cole Hults has registered at least one point in a career-high six straight contests and his seven points (two goals, five assists) currently rank third in the Big Ten for defensemen and tied-second amongst league rookies.
- Sophomore Nate Sucese is currently riding a five-game point-streak where he has scored three goals and added a pair of assists. The streak is the second longest of his career. He had a nine-game streak from February 10 - March 10, 2017.
- Senior James Robinson and junior Chase Berger began mini two-game point-streaks last weekend. For Robinson it ties his career-high and with one assist in each game vs. Michigan last weekend it marks the longest assist streak of his career.
- After a single goal against Michigan over the weekend, Penn State junior Andrew Sturtz is currently tied with David Goodwin ‘17 for second on the Penn State all-time goals list just one behind Casey Bailey’s program record of 45.
- The junior also ranks fifth in career points with 71 and has scored a goal in four of his last five games played.
MOVIN’ ON UP
- Along with Sturtz, a trio of players have been working their way up the Penn State record book so far this season. Senior Erik Autio, junior Chase Berger and sophomore Denis Smirnov.
- Autio is currently just one assist shy of Luke Juha ‘16 for third on the Penn State all-time assists list and first on the all-time defenseman assists list. His 50 career points are also just 10 shy of Juha for the most all-time by a Penn State defenseman.
- Berger has already worked his way up to seventh on the Penn State all-time points list and is just one shy of David Glen ‘16 for sixth. The junior is also tied with Tommy Olczyk ‘16 for seventh on the all-time goals list with 27, just two shy of Glen for sixth. Berger’s 41 assists also rank sixth on the all-time assists list.
- In just 47 career games Smirnov has already cracked the top-10 in career points (58) and career goals (24) ranking tenth in both and is just one assist shy of Casey Bailey for tenth on the all-time assists list.
HOT & COLD
- After going just 1-for-9 with the man-advantage to open the season, Penn State went 7-for-14 (50 percent) in its four games leading up to last weekend against Michigan where they were held without a power-play tally in 10 chances.
- Penn State is currently 20th in the nation with the man-advantage, 8-for-33 (24.2 percent), and rank fourth in the Big Ten.
THE PERFECT PAIR
- Senior Erik Autio and freshman Cole Hults have been paired together on defense ever since Hults stepped on campus over the summer during captains’ practices and they have remained by each other’s side through the first eight games of the 2017-18 season.
- The duo is currently the highest scoring pairing in the Big Ten with 13 combined points on a pair of goals and 11 assists. Their 13 points is also the highest in the country for a defensive pairing who have played every game together this season. Jeremy Davies and Garret Cockerill of Northeastern have one goal and 15 assists for 16 points, but have only been paired together the last four games.
- Jordan Gross and Bobby Nardella are the highest scoring defensemen in the country with 11 and 10 points respectively, but have not lined up side-by-side in any game so far this season.
- After a slow start to the season where Penn State fired 40+ shots on goal just one time, the Nittany Lions averaged 49 shots on target this past weekend.
- The Nittany Lions fired 54 shots on goal during a 5-4 overtime victory last Friday marking the first time they have reached 50+ shots since a 63 shot output against Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals last season.
- Penn State is currently fifth in the nation and first in the Big Ten averaging 37.75 shots on goal per game through the first eight games this season.
- Penn State is 23-13-2 all-time vs. Atlantic Hockey competition, but the Nittany Lions have feasted against the Atlantic over the past four seasons posting a 15-3-1 record including a perfect 5-0-0 mark against Atlantic Hockey teams in 2016-17.
- Penn State hits the road to battle the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish for a weekend series. Saturday’s contest will be broadcast nationally on NBCsports.