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Penn State Hockey: Three Rivers Classic

Penn State skates a pair at CONSOL Energy Center in the Burgh.

Alexander Hassenstein

Penn State skates a pair at CONSOL Energy Center in the Burgh.It's been nearly three weeks since the Lions dropped the puck, and the time away probably wasn't such a bad thing. Penn State (3-9-1) had lost six straight contests, all against pre-season top 10 squads. Losing wears on you, so taking a short break before restarting the last half of the schedule may work in the Lions' favor.

If you're looking for a bright spot in that losing streak, it's this: 4 of those 6 losses were 1-goal games. Twice in that stretch against some of the best sides in college hockey, the Lions outplayed their opponent and held 3rd period leads (before, you know, they let it get away). In other words, this team is close to breaking through, and has improved visibly over the start of the season. That's ahead of schedule, record be damned.

Friday and Saturday we'll get to see if that notion holds up. Penn State buses west to Pittsburgh, and will skate a pair in the Three Rivers Classic at CONSOL Energy Center. First up is intrastate rival Robert (Bob) Morris. Penn State beat the Colonials on their home ice November 1st, 5-4, netting three power play goals, and dominating the action in what has quickly become a chippy rivalry game.

Win that one, and Penn State is likely to face another top 10 squad - #6 Boston College. The BC Iggles will have faced a solid Bowling Green (8-8-4) team, against whom they'll be a favorite. BC is fast - they're one of the fastest teams on the ice in college hockey. And when they get rolling, they are difficult to slow down. A 9-2 win over Wisconsin, and an 11-0 thrashing of Army underscore the point: don't let the avalanche start.

When: Friday 12/27, 7:35pmET, vs. Robert Morris

and Saturday 12/28, either 4:35pm (consolation) or 7:35pm (final), vs. BC/BGSU