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Penn State Hockey Preview: No. 15 Nittany Lions host Ohio State

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It's the last home series for the 2015-16 season! How the time has flown!

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Who: Ohio State University
When: Friday 6:30 p.m. EST, Saturday 3:00 p.m. EST
Where: Pegula Ice Arena, University Park, PA
TV: BTN Friday and ESPNU Saturday
Stream: Audio: Fri+Sat
Live Stats: Gopsusports.com


It's hard to believe that the series this weekend will be the last time that Penn State fans will be able to see the No. 15 Nittany Lions (18-8-4) play at home. They host the Ohio State Buckeyes (8-16-2) on your typical Friday and Saturday game days.

The last time out against the Buckeyes, Penn State played to a split weekend with a 3-2 overtime win and 5-1 loss. Ohio State, despite just eight wins on the year, were not pushovers for Penn State on the last go around. The Buckeyes may have gone 1-2-1 since their last meeting with the Nittany Lions, but they took Minnesota to overtime once and almost rallied in a late comeback last week in the second game of the series.

The Buckeyes have shown flashes of brilliance, as seen with consecutive wins over Boston College and Cornell a few weeks ago to clinch the Florida College Hockey Classic. The team has an overall speed that causes problems for their opponent. They have a few skaters that have an elite talent that allows them to get angles and opportunities that are abnormal and can take defenders by surprise.

The Nittany Lions will get a boost out of playing in front of the supportive fans inside Pegula Ice Arena for the last time this season. Let's hope it will lead to a series win.

Getting To Know The Buckeyes

We've established the last time around that Ohio State is one of the youngest teams in the Big Ten, much like the Wisconsin Badgers. Though there have been growing pains, the freshman have had integral parts to play in the Buckeyes lineup.

Freshman Mason Jobst and sophomore Matthew Weis both round out the team's top five scorers with 23 and 18 points respectively. Leading the way for the Buckeyes on offense, however, is junior David Gust -- Ohio State's only point per game player with 27 points in 26 games. Gust also leads the team in assists, making an outrageous 20 helpers to just seven goals. Junior Nick Schilkey is two below Gust's point total and leads the Buckeyes with 13 goals on the season thus far. All in all, not much has changed for Ohio State on offense since the last time the teams squared off.

Things are more or less the same for the Buckeyes goaltenders since the teams last met. Christian Frey has gotten more starts for Ohio State, and faced Penn State both times when the teams met a month ago. There's no reason to believe that Frey won't start both games again, with a .922 save percentage and 2.53 GAA with over 926 minutes played this year. Frey has had 16 starts compared to his counterpart, Matt Tomkins, who has 11 on the year, though Tomkins hasn't seen the ice since an 8-6 loss to Michigan back on January 17.

Since the last time the teams played, Ohio State's offense has climbed to 3.23 average goals per game, now up to No. 13 in the country according to USCHO.com. A strong Buckeye attack has only been weathered by their inability to stop key pucks when needed. Even so, with Ohio State holding the 11th best power play and 9th best penalty kill in the country, special teams is where these matches could be decided.

Notes

  • David Glen is a Senior CLASS Award Finalist. Go vote for him!
  • It's THON weekend! Remember when the hockey team had the best Pep Rally dance last year? I most certainly do:
  • Meet the Blue Hair Man, Penn State hockey's No. 1 fan, in an article from the Centre Daily Times.
  • Break out the tissues. We'll be saying goodbye to some Nittany Lions this week, including Matt Skoff and Tommy Olczyk.