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Penn State Hockey Hosts Bentley

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The final series at Pegula Ice Arena until January kicks off a great sports weekend in State College.

Where: Pegula Ice Arena, State College, Pennsylvania.

When: Thursday 7 p.m. and Friday 7 p.m.

Live Video: Collegesportslive ($)

The Bentley Falcons cruise in to State College for a  pair of games against the red-hot Nittany Lions. Bentley is coming off a two-game sweep on the road against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Bentley (3-2) is off to a fast start this season, and like the Lions (3-1-2), they received one vote in this week's USCHO rankings.

The Falcons return six of the seven top scorers from last season, all of which tallied over twenty points apiece. Bentley competes in the American Hockey Association, as did last weekend's opponent Holy Cross. To compare Bentley to other former PSU hockey opponents, they are somewhere below the talent level of the Alaska teams but more talented than UConn or Holy Cross.

Ryan Soderquist is the longest tenured coach in Bentley hockey program history. He is also the all-time Bentley scoring leader. A 2000 graduate at Bentley, he became the youngest head coach in NCAA hockey history at the age of 25 in 2002. He led the team to a 19-14-4 record last year which was good for a second place finish in the AHA, the highest finish for the team since joining the league a decade ago. Soderquist has steadily built the Falcon program to what it is today, a contender for the AHA title on a regular basis.

The Match-up

Penn State and Bentley are very similar teams at this point in terms of talent on the ice. Both teams feature a healthy scoring attack that is not limited to one or two players, but spread around to several players. The biggest difference between the teams are the goal-tenders. While Penn State features Matt Skoff, a talented junior with a great deal of experience, Bentley has no true go-to-guy between the pipes. The Falcons lost Branden Komm to graduation. Last season Komm played all but 61 minutes of the season in net for Bentley. Blake Dougherty and Gabe Antoni split time in net this year, with Antoni getting the majority of the minutes.

Bentley averages just over twenty shots on goal per contest while PSU has maintained a super-human tally of 40 shots per game. Penn State is averaging just over three points per contest while holding their opponents to just under two points per game. Bentley is averaging 3.8 goals per game while giving up 2.8 goals on average to their opponents.

The series presents an opportunity for both squads. A split would be great for Bentley, acceptable for PSU. A sweep for either team would catapult them into the highest ranking in school history.

Notes

  • Penn State will not play another game at Pegula Ice Arena following this series until January 9th.
  • Forward Zach Saar is progressing in his recovery from hip surgery and is still on schedule to return to the ice after Christmas.
  • Check out the team in a re-cap of the first couple of weeks of the season. There is an in-depth look at PSU's freshman class.