Men's hockey takes on Ohio State in Columbus

February 27, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Nittany Lions men's hockey team travels to Ohio State for a two-game series at Value City Arena Friday (6:30 p.m.) and Saturday (7 p.m.).

Friday's contest is slated for a 6:30 p.m. puck drop on Big Ten Network and BTN2Go, while Saturday's game will air on American Sports Network and BTN2Go in Ohio and Pennsylvania. In the Keystone State, the game will air on CW 15 in Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, MeTV in Johnstown-Altoona-State College, MyTV 22 in Pittsburgh, MyTV in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and on WMCN in the Philadelphia area.

Ohio State (9-17-2, 4-10-0 Big Ten) has battled multiple injuries during a six-game skid that stretched from Jan. 10 at Penn State to Feb. 7 at Minnesota. Nevertheless, the Buckeyes have battled back of late, splitting at home with Wisconsin and Michigan.

Last weekend, Ohio State took a 5-3 decision at home against the Wolverines, leading for the majority of the game. Matt Johnson and Tanner Fritz had a game-high three points to pace the offense. In the series finale in Michigan, the Wolverines won 5-2 by scoring the game's first four goals despite being out-shot 30-23.

OSU's scoring is filtered out through many players with five scoring 15 points and another five with nine or more points this season. Fritz leads the team with 19 points, but Anthony Greco (14 goals) and Johnson (12) lead the team in scoring. Christian Lampasso has a team-best 12 assists.

In net, Christian Frey has started 17 times with a 5-10-1 record, sporting a .905 save percentage and 3.29 GAA. Matt Tomkins is 4-7-1 this year with a 3.56 GAA and .870 save percentage.

All-Time Series: Penn State trails 3-4-0
PSU at home: 2-2-0
PSU at OSU: 0-2-0
PSU on Neutral Ice: 1-0-0
PSU Streak: 1 win
First Meeting: 12/29/12, PSU 5-4
Last Meeting: 1/10/15, PSU 4-1
Last PSU Win: 1/10/15, 4-1
Last OSU Win: 1/9/15, 5-4 (OT)
Last Tie: n/a
Largest PSU Win: 4-1, 1/10/15
Largest OSU Win: 5-1, 1/31/14

Since their first meeting, Penn State and Ohio State have had different results, which have seen PSU remain in contention for a Big Ten title, while OSU fell to fifth.

The Nittany Lions are 6-3-2 in all games since that series, which opened the 2015 portion of the campaign for PSU. Alternatively, Ohio State has had the worst record in the league at 2-7-0, giving up 4.22 goals per game in that span.

Penn State followed up just its second home loss of the season with a rousing 4-3 overtime victory over No. 15 Minnesota on Saturday night thanks to a Luke Juha goal in the extra session.

On Friday, David Goodwin's early tally wouldn't hold up as Minnesota scored twice in the second to hold on for a 2-1 win.

Saturday had a similar start as Curtis Loik put the Lions up 1-0 on a power play goal. Scott Conway scored the first of his two goals on a nifty move around Josh Collins and lifted a backhanded goal for a 2-0 lead in the first.

A pair of Travis Boyd power play goals sandwiched Conway's second of the night, which came in a 4-on-4 situation from Eric Scheid's second assist of the game for a 3-2 lead after two periods.

The Gophers handled play for the majority of the third and finally evened the score with just 39.6 seconds as Sam Warning tapped home an easy goal from Hudson Fasching.

In overtime, an elbowing penalty put the Nittany Lions on their third power play as Juha cashed in with a shot just above the right circle to set off a tremendous celebration as Penn State defeated Minnesota for the first time.

The Nittany Lions are quickly running out of firsts as a new program. With Saturday's win over Minnesota, Penn State has defeated every Big Ten school. The first was Ohio State (Dec. 29, 2013) followed by Michigan State (Jan. 26, 2013), Wisconsin (Feb. 25, 2013), Michigan (Feb. 8, 2014) and finally Minnesota (Feb. 21, 2015).

Penn State's victory over No. 15 Minnesota was the program's fifth against ranked competition based on the USA Today/USA Hockey poll.

This season, the Nittany Lions are 3-2-0 against ranked foes this year.

Last season, Penn State went 3-16-0, with all three wins coming against Michigan, while in 2012-13 the Nittany Lions went 1-3-0. Penn State now stands at 6-21-0 all-time against ranked teams.

Prior to Nov. 15, 2014 PSU was 0-8-0 against top-five squads, beating No. 4 UMass Lowell, 4-1.

Entering the season, PJ Musico was Penn State's third goaltender and didn't see action through the first 16 games of the year. Since then, Musico has played in 10 of the last 14 games, initially in a reserve role earning more playing time on each occasion, before garnering his first start vs. No. 14 Vermont.

Against the Catamounts, Musico made 33 saves to earn his second win of the year, improving to 2-1-1. His 33 saves were the most since making 46 at Wisconsin on Feb. 24, 2014. The start was his first since March 7, 2014, also against Wisconsin.

The following weekend, Musico anchored Penn State's sweep of Wisconsin, improving to 4-1-1 at the time. The senior from California started in a 3-0 loss to Michigan State despite making 31 saves.

Musico started both games against the 15th-ranked Golden Gophers, saving 33 shots in each contest while allowing five goals.

On Tuesday, head coach Guy Gadowsky announced him as Friday's starter vs. Ohio State. He is 5-2-1 this season with a 2.23 GAA and .932 save percentage. In even strength play, Musico has allowed just 12 goals in 458 minutes of action.

The demarcation line of Penn State's success can be found in one number: 3. All of Penn State's wins have come when scoring at least three goals, while all but one of Penn State's losses have come when giving up three or more goals.

The Nittany Lions are resoundingly better when scoring three goals or more (16-3-2) than not (0-7-2). Defensively, the same holds true as Penn State is 14-1-2 when allowing less than three goals, but just 2-9-2 when giving up three or more.

Over the past 10 games, Penn State has received a crucial scoring and assist bump from an unfamiliar place: the defense.

The Nittany Lion defense has contributed six goals and 18 assists for 24 points, which may not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but that's 48 percent of the entire defense's point output for the year.

For Penn State, the production has been widespread with every defenseman that's skated in more than one game tallying at least two points. Luke Juha leads Penn State's defensemen with 14 points on two goals and 12 assists.

Penn State has used 41 different offensive line combinations through 30 games, but one thing has remained constant: David Goodwin-Taylor Holstrom-Casey Bailey will play and score.

The three have combined for 37 goals, 46 assists and a plus-42 rating. Currently, the line is 14-8-4 this season.

The threesome have been together in 24 of 28 contests (only times not together were Oct. 17 at Alaska, Dec. 5-6 at Wisconsin and Dec. 30 vs. Western Michigan), accounting for 83 of Penn State's 260 points (31.9 percent).

Only the Richard-Conway-Scheid line (40 points) has more than nine points this season amongst the forwards. Those two lines are also the only ones to play more than nine games together this season.

Since the turn of the calendar, the Nittany Lions have received three primary point scorers in Eric Scheid (17), Casey Bailey (16) and Scott Conway (14). Bailey has a remarkable plus-13 rating with nearly seven shots per game (6.92) since the start of 2015.

In those 13 games, Scheid has a team best 11 assists, while Conway has 10 helpers. Bailey leads the team in goals with nine in that span. His linemate, David Goodwin, is second with seven tallies.

Since the start of February Scheid, Bailey and Conway have an equal six points. Conway and Bailey have matching two-goal, four-assist lines, while Scheid has one goal and five dishes.

Freshman forward Scott Conway has upped his scoring production over the past six weeks to become the second-leading scorer in the Big Ten among newcomers.

Conway has 22 points off eight goals and 14 assists, which puts him second to only Dylan Larkin of Michigan.

Since Jan. 9, Conway is the third-leading scorer per game among freshmen in NCAA Division I (1.17 ppg) behind only Larkin and the nation's overall leading scorer, Jack Eichel of BU.

Behind a Big Ten-leading 20 goals, junior forward Casey Bailey has regained his scoring form from 2012-13 that saw him tally 14 goals during his freshman campaign. Last season, Bailey tallied nine goals in 32 games.

Entering this week, Bailey is one of seven players in the country with 20 goals. He is four goals behind Union's Daniel Ciampini (24 goals), but just one goal off of being tied for second with three other players despite playing two less games than all of them.

Bailey ranks third nationally in goals per game (0.67) and tied-for-17th nationally in points per game (1.17)

Bailey is first on the team with 10 multi-point games this season and has 18 in his Penn State career. He has tallied a point in 21 of 30 games this year.

Penn State's offense went dormant during its three-game losing streak, tallying just three goals, the fewest in any three-game stretch all season.

Penn State would finally snap out of its scoring funk by dropping four on the Golden Gophers, a trend the Nittany Lions would like to continue against the Buckeyes, against whom Penn State scored eight goals earlier this season.

Penn State's juniors have been the most productive scoring class this year with 49 goals and 62 assists for 111 points, which is good for 42.6 percent of the team's total point production.

As for goals, the juniors have tallied 49 percent of the tallies led by leading scorers Casey Bailey (20) and Eric Scheid (13).

The three other classes combined have totaled 52 goals and 98 assists for 149 points.

Penn State has 100 goals through 30 games, an average of 3.33 goals as opposed to last year's 2.22 average (80 goals in 36 games).

Eight Nittany Lions have tallied 10 or more points so far this season: Casey Bailey (35), Taylor Holstrom (29), David Goodwin (25), Eric Scheid (25), Scott Conway (22), Dylan Richard (18), Curtis Loik (17) and Luke Juha (14). Last season 12 Lions garnered at least 10 points or more in 36 contests.

Moreover, 19 different Nittany Lions have registered a goal this season with a total of 22 Lions recording a point. In 2013-14 alone, 16 Lions scored goals with 21 total earning points.

Penn State's second line of Eric Scheid, Dylan Richard and Scott Conway has provided an extra scoring boost to the Nittany Lions.

The trio has now appeared in 14 games this season (8-2-2), tallying 15 goals and 25 assists for 40 points. Each of those numbers are second best on the team.

Forward Eric Scheid missed six games and returned to the ice in impressive fashion, tallying four multi-point games and a pair of two-goal performances to pace the Penn State offense since Jan. 9.

Scheid has tallied a point in 10 of 13 games since his return. Scheid is second on the team with 13 goals. The Nittany Lions went 2-4-0 in during his absence, which puts PSU at 14-6-4 when Scheid is in the lineup.

Penn State likes to shoot the puck. A lot. The Nittany Lions lead NCAA Division I men's hockey with 40.70 shots per game, almost five shots more per game than second best Boston University (36.32).

The Nittany Lions have fired 50 or more shots on six occasions this season, going 4-0-2. Moreover, PSU has attempted 40 or more shots 15 times, going 9-4-2 in those games.

The Nittany Lions have out-shot their opponents in 23 of 30 games this year. PSU is 12-7-4 when out-shooting its opposition.

Contributing to the staggering shot totals is Casey Bailey who leads the nation in shots on goal (178), averaging a nation-high 5.93 shots a game. Bailey has three games of 10 shots or more this season.

Penn State ranks third nationally in shots on goal margin per game (+9.23), while Ohio State ranks 38th of 59 teams at -1.50.

Ohio State ranks 35th nationally in shots per game with 29.71, while ranking 38th in shots allowed per game (31.21). PSU is 41st in that category (31.47).

In games where PSU fails to shoot at least 30 times Penn State is 1-1-1 with a tie vs. Alaska Anchorage, a win at Michigan and a loss at Michigan State.

Penn State's most productive passer has been Taylor Holstrom with six goals and 23 assists for 29 points.

His 23 assists are the most in a Penn State uniform in a single season. Holstrom is one dish away from matching his freshman performance in 2010-11 at Mercyhurst.

Currently, Holstrom is seventh in the nation with 0.85 assists per game.

The forward tandem of Casey Bailey and Taylor Holstrom were nominated for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, as announced Wednesday, Jan. 7. Fan voting, which accounts for one percent of all voting, continues through March 8 before the 10 finalists are named.

Bailey leads the Big Ten in goals (20), while Holstrom is six assists off the Big Ten lead with 23. Fans can vote for the Hobey Baker Award by visiting this website.

The Nittany Lions started 0-9-0-0 in Big Ten play last season, but finished the year going 3-7-1-0 down the stretch before going 1-1 in the Big Ten Tournament.

After 14 games of Big Ten play, Penn State stands at 8-5-1-0 this season. The Nittany Lions have gone 12-13-2-0 vs. Big Ten competition since Feb. 8, 2014. Penn State has already surpassed its Big Ten win total from last season.

Penn State sits in a tie for third place in the Big Ten with 25 points behind Michigan and Minnesota (27). The Nittany Lions are one of only two Big Ten teams to defeat the Minnesota this season.

The Nittany Lions were one of the top power play units in the nation, ranking as high as fifth in mid-December, however, PSU had been struggling on the man-advantage of late.

During a six-game home stand (Jan. 9-24) Penn State staggered to a 3-for-31 stretch on the power play, slipping to 14th nationally in power play percentage (20.9).

Following a 2-for-12 weekend vs. NMU, which snapped a 1-for-19 skid, the Nittany Lions pegged Vermont's second-ranked penalty kill for a key goal in three opportunities.

In the series vs. Wisconsin, Penn State went 2-for-6 as PSU rose to ninth in the country with a 22.0 percent conversion rate. A 1-for-7 showing at Michigan State dropped PSU to 21.5 percent.

The lethal power play returned on Saturday with a 2-for-3 showing, including the game-winning goal in overtime. Currently, Penn State rates seventh at .223 on the power play.

Ohio State has the last ranking penalty kill at 73 percent allowing 24 goals in 89 opportunities.

Penn State returns to Pegula Ice Arena for the final time this season for a crucial series with co-leader Michigan. Friday's game is set for 7 p.m. while Saturday's home finale is slated for 3 p.m. The Nittany Lions will honor their senior class on Saturday. Both games can be seen online through BTN Plus. 

Last Updated February 27, 2015