Saturday, December 28, 2013

Previewing the Penn State Nittany Lions

For the first time in program history, the Boston College Eagles will faceoff against the newest hockey program in country, Penn State. The Nittany Lions defeated the Robert Morris Colonials last night in game two of the Three Rivers Classic thanks to a goal with under two minutes to play by forward Eric Scheid. So far this season, Penn State is 4-9-1, with an 0-2 mark in their first season in the newly formed Big Ten hockey conference. The only common opponents between BC and PSU are Wisconsin (PSU lost twice) and Army, whom the Lions defeated 4-1 in the first game ever at Pegula Ice Center.

I stuck around and watched the entirety of the PSU vs Robert Morris game last night and a couple things stood out to me. First of all, this Penn State team has some pretty nifty skaters than can get up and down the ice quickly. I was especially impressed with forwards such as Kenny Brooks and Tommy Olczyk. They've also got some pretty prolific defenseman such as Luke Juha and Patrick Koudys. They may not have a great record so far this season but they certainly jumped out to me with their speed and offensive zone play. When the final horn sounded, the Lions recorded 62 (!) shots on Robert Morris goalie Terry Shafer. 

Unlike Bowling Green, Penn State is a team that is going to try and skate up to BC's level. The Falcons tried to pack it in behind their own blue line but BC's speed was too much for them. On the other hand, I expect Penn State to try and create a lot of chances coming through the neutral zone. Like I said earlier, they've got a couple of forwards that have a certain amount of speed and skill that can pose a threat to BC. In order to create a lot of chances in the offensive end, Penn State is going to have to spread to puck around all night so hopefully BC will turn those passes into turnovers and capitalize in the offensive end. I expect that this game will be one with over thirty five shots per side. If Billett and the defense come to play, BC should be able to come out with a victory. 

One of the things I've seen from this BC club that has been a bit of a problem in years past is their ability to play well when holding a lead. None of the four losses this season have been a result of collapsing in the third period with a lead. To be honest, with all the young guys we have this year, I didn't expect that but as of now, this team has a solid system in place when they go up by two or three goals. It's a skill that is extremely invaluable come playoff time so hopefully they can build on it tonight. 

The hallmark of this program has always been about brining home trophies and tonight is a chance to get one. It's not the National Championship or the Beanpot but it's a great opportunity to bring some hardware back to Chestnut Hill. 

Scouting Penn State- 

Pairwise rank- 49th 

Record- 4-9-1 

Leading Scorers- Eric Scheid (8-4-12), Luke Juha (4-5-9), Ricky DeRosa (3-5-8) 

Team Offense- 2.50 goals per game (41st) 

Team Defense- 3.64 goals per game (54th) 

Power Play- 22.81 % (9th) 

Penalty Kill- 81.3 % (30th) 

Penalties Taken- 16.14 penalty minutes per game. 9th most in NCAA. 


1. No stupid penalties. They've got a tremendous power play. 

2. Forcing them to turn the puck over. I'd like to see BC be a bit more aggressive in the first period. Force these guys to turn the puck over in their end and the neutral zone. 

3. Secondary scoring. This will be a key for every game until the end of the season. 


1. 7:35 start. No TV so be sure to follow on Twitter for live updates. 


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