The Penn State men’s ice hockey team (9-4-2, 3-1-0 Big Ten) travels to Pittsburgh for a third consecutive appearance in the Three Rivers Classic tournament at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Nittany Lions, currently No. 20 in the U.S. College Hockey Online weekly poll, square off against 19th ranked Robert Morris University (11-2-3, 9-2-3 Atlantic Hockey Conference) on Monday, Dec. 29 at 7:35 p.m.
Among those leading the way for Penn State will be goalie Matthew Skoff, a McKees Rocks, Pa. native. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior has started 11 games this season for the Nittany Lions. Skoff’s save percentage (.919), goals-against average (2.27), win percentage (.636) and wins (6) all rank second in the Big Ten Conference.
Heading into the tournament, the Nittany Lions are riding high off a pair of firsts. In addition to the team’s first-ever national ranking, Penn State recorded its first conference sweep in program history with two wins over the University of Wisconsin on Dec. 5 and 6. Penn State’s three Big Ten wins put them on top of the current conference standings with nine points and a .750 win percentage.
In just the team’s second season in the Big Ten Conference and third season as an NCAA Division I program, Penn State boasts a 3.47 goals-per-game average (seventh among Division I schools). Additionally, the Nittany Lions’ power-play percentage (26.7) ranks fifth in the country, while the team’s 83-percent penalty-kill success rate is tops in the Big Ten.
Senior Taylor Holstrom and junior Casey Bailey have emerged as key contributors for Penn State this season. Combined, the forwards hold the top spot in nine Big Ten offensive categories. They have recorded 18 points apiece so far this year, which is tied for 15th in the country.
Behind the bench, Guy Gadowsky is currently in his third season as Penn State’s head coach. Prior to joining the Nittany Lions, Gadowsky served as the head coach at Princeton University for seven seasons.
Last year, Penn State went 1-1 in the Three Rivers Classic and finished second. After beating Robert Morris in the opening round, 3-2, the Nittany Lions fell to Boston College 8-2 in the tournament championship game.
Depending on the outcome of Penn State’s opening-round game, the team will play either Western Michigan University or 17th ranked Colgate University on Tuesday, Dec. 30. The consolation game will get underway at 4:30 p.m., while the championship game will take place at 7:35 p.m.
Author: Mike Annarella