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Penn State Hockey Preview: No. 16 St. Lawrence Comes to Hockey Valley

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The Lions hope to build on the early-season success at home with a pair of games versus a very challenging ECAC opponent.

Chris Taylor

Who: #16 St. Lawrence Saints
When: Thur 7 p.m. / Fri 7 p.m
Where: Pegula Ice Arena
TV: None
Stream: Free Audio and Video
Live Stats: Gopsusports.com

The St. Lawrence Skating Saints (4-2-0) arrive in Hockey Valley after splitting a series last week with #15 Miami in Canton, New York. The Lions (4-1-0) handled the over-matched AIC Yellow Jackets in State College, sweeping the two games in a tune-up to this highly anticipated series.

With the football team playing at home on Halloween this Saturday coupled with the importance of the hockey games, the atmosphere inside of Pegula Ice Arena should be at full-effect for both games.

The Matchup

The Saints finished last season with the ranking that Penn State currently holds, 23rd. SLU employs a balanced scoring attack, similar to Penn State, but doesn't quite match the Nittany Lions' scoring output. The Lions have six players that have tallied five or more points in the early-going of the season while the Saints have no players that have scored five or more points. SLU has scored five goals in three out of four of the wins on the year, and seems to struggle when shooting fewer than 30 shots per game, as it has dropped all but one of such games.

Goalie Kyle Hayton has been in net for all six of the Saints' games this season holding a 1.99 goals against average with a save percentage of .925. Four of the twelve goals allowed by Hayton this season have come either short handed or while on the power play, so staying out of the box will be a key for SLU.

St. Lawrence will be the most experienced team that Penn State has faced to this point, featuring seventeen upperclassmen including five fifth-year seniors. The two teams are roughly the same size so it is unlikely that PSU will be manhandled the way it was last weekend at the hands of the mammoth AIC team.

The Saints have scored more often at home (4.25 goals per game) than on the road (2 gpg) this year, so the best plan of attack for the Lions may be to focus on protecting its goalie early in the game. St. Lawrence employs a strategy similar to Michigan State in that it will not allow many quality shots by its opponent. To date it allows only 26.8 shots per game.

SLU will likely try to squeeze Penn State in the neutral zone in an effort to make it hard for it to set up in the offensive zone. One advantage the Lions may have is the ability to stay out of the penalty box, having only committed 14 penalties compared to SLU's 31. The Saints have only scored once in twenty-six power plays while PSU has scored 25% of the time it has gone on the power play (7 of 28) this year.

Notes:

--Freshmen Chase Berger, Andrew Sturtz, and Alec Marsh have accounted for 11 goals in five games.

--Berger was awarded the Big Ten's 3rd star of the week for the effort vs AIC which included five points and a .789 win percentage while taking face-offs.

--Andrew Sturtz's first career goal on Friday got noticed by NCAA.com as being the play of the week.

--Take a listen to coach Gadowsky's interview with PSU play-by-play man Brian Tripp.