It’s the first day of Spring but Penn State winter sports teams still have some work left. The wrestling team just completed a run to the National Championship last weekend. The basketball team will play its third NIT game later today and with a win will continue on to the final four at Madison Square Garden.
It is getting very late in the NCAA hockey season. Temperatures are rising and the ice is getting so thin that you can see the fish staring back at you from the other side. This Tuesday Morning Penalty Kill will be focused on Guy Gadowsky’s Penn State hockey team. The Lions will play in the NCAA Tournament for the second-consecutive season on Saturday in Allentown, Pennsylvania. While you are sitting in the sin bin of life, your work cubicle, consider the odds that the team will win two games to advance to the Frozen Four.
The Lions won four games in a row before losing in the final minute, on the road, to eventual Big Ten Champion Notre Dame. Four wins in a row for the Lions from this point would be enough for the team to win its first National Championship. That is a bit more ambitious than we here at TMPK need to be at this point. For now, we will take a look at the Allentown bracket only, and plot a course to two victories.
Penn State is the host institution at the NCAA Hockey Midwest Regional in Allentown this weekend. With the returning National Champion Denver Pioneers looming in the first round and Ohio State a potential second-round opponent for the Lions, there is no shortage of firepower in the bracket.
Denver is coming off an NCHC Championship and is the No.5 seed in the tournament. The Lions are seeded No.11 but are playing very close to home. The Pioneers will be favored to win, but it will not be impossible for the Lions to advance. Denver plays a very controlled, all-around game that is as similar to an NHL-style of play that exists in college hockey. The team is talented, on a hot streak, and can score and play defense. To say that it is strong in one area over another would be misleading, as the team can do whatever it takes on a given night to win.
The one variable that may play into the Lions’ hands is their ability to shoot and score. As is the calling card for the team, it led the nation in shots on goal and was second in goals scored this season. If Penn State can get a few goals, possibly four or more, it could force the hand of Denver, making the Pioneers take risks offensively that it would not normally take.
Another factor in favor of the Lions is that the game is being played in its home state, in the hard-scrapple city of Allentown. We will not know the extent to which the crowd will impact the game until Saturday, but there is a chance that with the support of the fans, and some home cooking, Penn State could find its way to the second round.
Should the Lions advance the task may not get much easier. Ohio State is the No.4 seed in the tournament and matches up well with the fast, end-to-end style of play that Penn State likes to feature. While Denver and the Buckeyes may have the edge on paper, it is not significant, and with the unknown impact that the fans may bring, it is hard to say what will unfold over the weekend.
I would give the Lions a 40% chance of winning its first game. If it faces Ohio State in the second round, I would put the Lions’ chances of winning over 50% but not by much. Should Princeton defeat Ohio State and the Lions face the Tigers in the second round, I would put the chances of a Penn State win at nearly 75%. Overall my guess would be that there is a 50/50 chance that Guy Gadowsky will see his team advance to the Frozen Four.
Those are just numbers that I conjured up while writing this and having my thoughts momentarily side-tracked by the mention of scrapple and home-cooking. It has been very difficult, considering the location of the games, to keep a certain Billy Joel song from distracting me further.
So what is your best guess, BSD reader? Are you keeping the faith, sailing down the river of dreams; or is it just a matter of trust? We’re looking for honesty in your projection here, and for all we know you may be right. Pennsylvania college hockey fans have waited for the longest time to watch Penn State play the big shot. Will the Lions win two games and advance to the Frozen Four?
How Many Games Will Penn State Win?
This poll is closed
NONE-We didn’t start the fire and it was over before it began.
ONE-No Frozen Four, but we love you just the way you are.
TWO-Moving up and moving out to Minnesota.
Billy Joel is kind of like Ohio State. They’re good, sure, but they are also over-rated.