Guy Gadowsky and his Penn State Nittany Lions will open the season tonight in front of an appreciative home crowd in Hockey Valley. The opponent is Sacred Heart, which was picked to finish third in the Atlantic Hockey Conference by the USCHO.com. The home team will be favored to win but considering that it is opening weekend, anything can happen.
In past seasons the Lions have missed a few opportunities to put away lower ranked foes during the non-conference slate, which made their selection to the NCAA Tournament that much tighter at the end of the season. Penn State missed making the tournament for a third straight year by one spot a year ago. With the most upper classmen in the country returning in all of college hockey, 19 out of 29 players, there is plenty of leadership on the team.
We will get our first glimpse when they hit the ice tonight at 7 p.m. If you missed our season preview that ran earlier in the week, you can see it here.
Scouting Sacred Heart
Last weekend Sacred Heart tied Connecticut 3-3 in a single-game series to open their season. Austin Magera, the top scorer from last year, returns for the Pioneers. The sophomore sniper will have plenty of help since the top 10 scorers from last season returned this year.
The Pioneers put 48 shots on goal last weekend, that’s a Penn State level of success. Typically they got around 30 per game last year so we’ll see how that works out. Overall Sacred Heart is a young and talented team, likely to finish in the 35-45 PairWise area if the preseason projections are correct. They are enough of a threat that the Lions will have to play their best to get a sweep.
How To Watch
The team announced a couple of weeks ago that roughly one third of the games will be on television this season. It could work out that more of the games will be shown, we’ll have to wait to see as the year goes on and networks add games to the schedule as they typically have in the past.
Neither game will be televised this weekend, but that’s okay for die hard fans. A streaming option from BTN+ is available for $14.95 per month. Every game that is not televised this year will be available on stream at BTN+. It’s well worth the investment for people that want to see all of the games and the quality is pretty good.
There are only 4 hockey games in December, so if you subscribe for two months, that should carry you through to January. The Lions play Michigan on FS1 on Dec. 6 and then the next game on Dec. 7 will be on BTN+. A week later the Lions travel to South Bend, where a high quality free stream from NBC will be provided. It is possible to sign up now, pause the subscription once it lapses in December for a few weeks until the games come back in early January. That way it would take 4 monthly subscriptions to get through the entire season.
That’s not too bad considering this is likely to be a memorable year. For people that enjoy other sports such as basketball and wrestling the value is even better. I don’t gain anything from the subscription sales but I thought it was worth passing on the information.
Whether it’s at home or in person or a mixture of each, Penn State hockey fans should have a lot to cheer for this year.