Notre Dame vs. Penn State hockey capsule
Who: Notre Dame (10-4-1, 4-2-0-0 Big Ten) vs. Penn State (10-4-1, 2-3-1-1 Big Ten).
Where: Pegula Ice Arena (5,782), University Park, Pa.
When: Friday and Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
Radio: WZOC-FM (94.3).
Rivalry: Notre Dame leads series, 8-2; there have been three ties. … Last season, Irish won four of five meetings, including 3-2 in Big Ten semifinals last March 10 in South Bend. … At Pegula on Feb. 2 and 3, Notre Dame won 5-3 and tied 2-2, receiving the extra point by winning 1-0 shootout after goalie Cale Morris made five overtime saves, including one on penalty shot.
Rankings: Coach Jeff Jackson’s Irish are No. 5 in USCHO.com media poll and No. 6 in USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine coaches’ poll. … Coach Guy Gadowsky’s Nittany Lions are No. 9 in both.
Recaps: Last week, Irish ran winning streak to six games with three non-conference victories at home, beating Northern Michigan 2-1 in overtime (Nov. 27) and then sweeping RPI 5-1 (Nov. 30) and 3-0 (Dec. 1). … Nittany Lions won shootout after 3-3 overtime tie (Nov. 30) and then lost 8-5 (Dec. 1) at Wisconsin.
Shavings: Penn State enters series averaging 5.13 goals a game, No. 1 in nation. … Meanwhile, Notre Dame enters tied nationally with Bowling Green with goals against per game at 1.67 in large part because of the play of its goalies, junior Morris and sophomore Dylan St. Cyr. … Morris, who earned first two victories last week, will start Friday’s game at Pegula where he went 1-0-1 last season on way to winning All-America honors, and is expected to play both games. … Morris has a 1.83 goals-against average and .939 save percentage with one shutout and 7-4-1 record. … St. Cyr, who made 33 saves in Saturday’s victory over RPI, is 3-0 in three starts with 1.00 goals-against average and .965 save percentage. … Junior left wing Cam Morrison won Third Star honors in Big Ten Stars of the Week for Dec. 3 with two goals and two assists. … Junior left wing Cal Burke leads Irish with 17 points (team-high 9 goals, 8 assists), one point more than senior defenseman Bobby Nardella, who has team-high 11 assists and five goals. … Junior captain/defenseman Andrew Peeke has 36 blocked shots, seventh nationally. … Jackson now has 306 victories at Notre Dame, one shy of Lefty Smith’s career-record of 307 victories. … Penn State has four players with 19 or more points led by sophomore forwards with 25 points each – Evan Barratt (12 goals, 13 assists) and Alex Limoges (8, 17); they are tied for No. 2 in scoring. … Sophomore Cole Hults (2-9-11) anchors defense ahead of goalies Peyton Jones (6-3-1, 3.58 average, .897 save percentage) and Chris Funkey (4-1, 3.42, .890). … Nittany Lions averaging 6.5 shots per game more than opponents.
Quoting Jackson: (on last week’s play) “The positive thing for me is that we’re making progress. We’ve had some success in the last couple of games, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Special teams are still a concern – we have to improve our power play and we need to get more depth in our penalty kill.”
(on Penn State) “They have four lines which can all score. They play full throttle going north. They are a really good transition team; everything is going to the net. They don’t hesitate, and it creates chaos because they shoot the puck from everywhere. The big thing for us, especially in their building, is controlling the momentum of the game. It’s one of the best environments in college hockey.”