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No. 25 Penn State Hosts No. 21 Notre Dame

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It will be a very important series for the home team.

Heather Weikel | Black Shore Diaries

The Lions (8-8) have managed to keep pace with the top teams in the Big Ten since starting the season with 5 straight losses. Tonight Notre Dame comes to town for a Thursday and Friday series between the 4th and 5th place teams in conference standings.

There is a great deal of hockey to be played but it appears that three Big Ten teams and maybe a fourth will be in position to make the NCAA Tournament when the dust settles. The Lions managed to pull ahead of Ohio State and Michigan State, by just a couple of points, and now they have the Irish in their sights.

Here are the current Big Ten Standings. Does anyone know what all the extra numbers for conference record mean? Something to do with overtime wins, losses and ties. Just pay attention to the points because ultimately that is all that matters.

There is a gap between the top 3 teams and the rest of the league of 5 points. The bottom four teams in the league are separated by just 3 points. It will be a tough climb for the Lions to catch one of the top 3 teams but should it pull away from the bottom 3 teams there may be a chance it will be enough for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

We should be happy that the team is playing good, entertaining hockey, giving fans something to enjoy twice per week. That is enough for most of us.

Notre Dame has one goalie, Ryan Bischel, that has a 3-1-1 record and holds a .922 save percentage. Dylan St. Cyr has a record of 2-5 with a .894 save percentage. We may see both goalies this weekend though Bischel has played better thus far.

For Penn State it is hard to say if we will see two goalies. Liam Soulierre has not played for a few games and Oskar Autio has solidified his position as the starter. Autio’s save percentage is low (.891) but his goals against average of 3.01 gives the team a chance to win. He has let some soft goals in but as of late that has been a rarity.

Kevin Wall and Aarne Talvitie are currently in the top-5 for goal scorers in the Big Ten. Notre Dame has Alex Steeves, who comes in at No. 6 on the list.

Big Ten Leading Scorers

Six other Notre Dame players have 7 or more points, so the scoring has come from all over for them. The Lions have 5 players with more than 10 points on the year. Penn State would like the game to be high-scoring whereas the Irish would prefer to win a low-scoring affair. It will be interesting to see which team controls the tempo.