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Lions Travel To South Bend To Close Out The First Half of the Season

A strong series on the road would be a great way to head to the break.

Heather Weikel/Black Shoe Diaries

Penn State is coming off a split on the road against Michigan and remains in first place in the Big Ten Standings. Nationally the Lions are sitting in the No.6 position in the PairWise Rankings. With two games to go before the holiday break, the Lions have a chance to end the first half of the season on a high note.

Coach Guy Gadowsky spoke about the team’s position in the rankings. “We’re all aware of it. It’s a little too early. We really try hard not to scoreboard watch, in general, and specifically in this league, because any one weekend you can go up or down five spots. We’re aware of it. I think it’s a little too early to be really looking and figuring out what you have to do for certain scenarios. It’s amazing, isn’t it, the way it is in this league? It’s tough.”

Heading to Notre Dame for a two game series is always a tough task, even with the Irish struggling lately. Once in the top-5, Notre Dame has dropped five straight and has just one win in the past eight games. Both games of the series will be available free via NBC Sports streaming service.

While it may appear that this could be an easy weekend for Penn State, that is not what coach Guy Gadowsky is saying. “I can’t tell you how we’re looking at it differently. Obviously, we were able to watch games this weekend. Boston College looked extremely good, I’ll tell you that. I think you can expect that they’re going to come out swinging, that they’re going to be really hungry this week to try and improve where they feel they went wrong. We’re expecting to see the same Notre Dame — very, very tight-checking, no room on the ice, heavy team — that we always do.”

Notre Dame goalie Cale Morris, one of the best netminders in the college game, has looked human this year, sporting a 3.06 goals against average and a save percentage of 89%. Morris has been a tough challenge over the past couple of years for the Lions’ high-flying offensive attack.

Here’s what coach Gadowsky had to say about Morris. “I think maybe it was possible we tried to be too cute against him because he had a lot of success against us and a little too perfect and that we had to make the perfect play. I think when we had success against him, referencing that one game, it was not that we focused on him and his game and trying to be too perfect. It was just playing a good team game and that’s what we’re going to try again.”

Penn State will be off for three weeks following the games this weekend, not resuming play until January 3 at home against Niagara. It’s hard to believe that there are only 8 more regular-season games left to be played at the Pegula Ice Arena this season.

If things go well, fans could see a couple of Big Ten tournament games at home and then a couple more nearby in Allentown during the first couple of rounds of the NCAA tournament. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played but the Lions are in a great position to this point.