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Penn State Hockey Preview: Princeton Comes to Town for the Last Home Game of 2015

The Nittany Lions will try to cap off their 2015 home slate with another victory.

Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Who: Princeton University
When: Friday 7 p.m. EST
Where: Pegula Ice Arena, University Park, PA
TV: None
Stream: Free Audio / Free stream
Live Stats:

Friday will be the last time in the 2015 calendar year that Penn State (10-2-3) will play a hockey game within the confines of Pegula Ice Arena. It's been quite a successful one for them so far, but there is still one more test for the new No. 16 team in the country.

After a sweep of the Michigan State Spartans by a combined score of 10-3, Penn State will look to keep advancing in the USCHO rankings as the Princeton Tigers (4-8-0) head into Pegula for a one-night visit (a one-night stand, if you will). The Tigers are coming off a huge win over No. 10 Yale last weekend, so they have no qualms about taking down ranked teams. Penn State can't let Princeton stick around in this one like Yale did last weekend.

Getting To Know Princeton

The Tigers have won three of their last five games, rebounding after a 1-6-0 start to their 2015-16 season. Yale wasn't the only ranked team Princeton has bested recently, also shutting out No. 20 Clarkson 3-0 on Nov. 21. The Tigers' 4-2 victory over Yale is bound to catapult them into Pegula with momentum after their quick start to their previous game, where they potted two goals 10 seconds apart in the first period against the Bulldogs.

Princeton does not boost a high octane offense, averaging only 2.25 goals per game. The team's leading scorer is freshman Ryan Kuffner, who has eight points on the year with four goals and four assists in 12 games played. Two other underclassmen are tied with Kuffner in goals, sophomore Eric Robinson and freshman Max Véronneau, and both have five points on the year each. Sophomore David Hallisey makes up the rest of Princeton's young scoring core with two goals and five assists in all 12 games played.

The Tigers instead rely on the goaltending of junior Colton Phinney, who boasts the seventh best save percentage in the NCAA with .940. His 2.38 GAA is in line with Princeton's 2.75 average goals allowed per game, ranking 30th in the NCAA on the USCHO website. He is in the midst of his best season with the Tigers, and is the team's clear MVP as Princeton has allowed over three goals in a game just three times this year.

Princeton's power play isn't much at a 13.16 percent, but their penalty kill is tied for fourth with Cornell at 90 percent, a testament to their goaltending and defensive scheme. However, Penn State was able to generate two goals on Michigan State's 89.5 percent penalty killing last week, so it remains to be seen if the Nittany Lions can keep motoring through. Princeton and Penn State average around the same amount of penalty time, so this game could potentially be won or lost on a key man advantage situation.