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Notre Dame Comes to Hockey Valley for Weekend Series with Penn State

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The Golden Domers will have to deal with one of the most daunting venues in college hockey with the student section in full white-out mode.

Eamon McAdam and Conor Varley protect the net.
Eamon McAdam and Conor Varley protect the net.
Chris Taylor
Who: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0-0)
When: Fri 7 p.m. / Sat 3 p.m
Where: Pegula Ice Arena
TV: None
Stream: Free Audio and Video
Live Stats: Gopsusports.com

Coming into this series, Notre Dame has played a pair of exhibition games, while Penn State (1-0-0) has played one exhibition game and one official game, a win last weekend in Buffalo versus Canisius. Both teams come into this year with high expectations, as Notre Dame was ranked 25th in the first USCHO.com poll of the year, while Penn State is tied for 26th. The Fighting Irish are a high-profile team, competing in the Hockey East conference. A pair of wins for the Lions would surely garner even more national attention, possibly the earliest top-20 ranking in program history.

Friday night will feature a student section white-out. It will be the first time the team has played in front of the home crowd since it defeated Michigan 4-3 on March 7 of this year. The home ice advantage for Penn State was notable last season as the team played to a 13-2-3 record in Hockey Valley.

The Match-Up

The rosters are very similar in make-up. Penn State brought in eight new players this season and Notre Dame has six freshmen. Notre Dame will have a slight size advantage when the teams hit the ice.

Sophomore goalie Cal Peterson saw the most time in net last season for the Irish, going 13-16-3 with a .919 save percentage and a 2.51 goals against average. Junior Chad Katunar played in one-third of the team's games last year between the pipes, earning a 5-3-2 record. He may get a start this weekend.

Notre Dame lost the top two scorers from last year's team. The top returning point scorer is Mario Lucia (21 goals, 11 assists), the son of longtime Minnesota head coach Don Lucia. Other than Lucia the team returns only one player, Sam Kerr, that scored more than 10 goals last season. The returning top scorers that remain have been mostly set-up men in the past years. Thomas DiPauli (8 goals, 21 assists) and Jordan Gross (7 goals, 21 assists) will be looked on to score a little more this season.

The Fighting Irish are neither a high-scoring nor defense-heavy squad. Last year it scored 3 goals per game and allowed 2.8 points per game while taking just under 30 shots a night. If the Lions can stay out of the penalty box, there is reason to believe it has more of scoring punch than Notre Dame. The chance to grab two early-season out-of-conference wins is there.

Notes:

  • Senior goalie Matt Skoff will get the start Friday night and Eamon McAdam will start on Saturday.
  • This is the first meeting on the ice for the teams.
  • The comment section of this article will be used as an open-thread during the Friday night game.
  • Coach Gadowsky discussed the home-ice advantage with Brian Tripp earlier this week. Check out the video.