Junior forward Sam McCormick (17) celebrates Eugene Fadyeyev’s (21) goal in the first period of game one during Ohio State’s hockey game vs. Michigan State on March 1. Ohio State won 5-1. Credit: Nick Hudak | For The Lantern

After winning the Big Ten regular season and coming off a bye week in the first round, the Ohio State men’s hockey team is ready to play again as they prepare for the first Big Ten Tournament semifinals matchup against Penn State.

Following a split series against Michigan State, the Buckeyes (20-9-5, 13-7-4 Big Ten) have seen their USCHO ranking increase from No. 7 up to No. 6. The Nittany Lions (21-14-2, 11-12-1 Big Ten) remain behind in the overall rankings at No. 17 but are ahead in their offensive rankings, topping the nation with 4.59 goals per game, .53 more than any team in the country.

The Penn State offense has been its ace in the hole all season, having scored 170 goals this season compared to Ohio State’s 107, which ranks tied for No. 22 in the NCAA.

This offense is led by sophomore forwards Alex Limoges and Evan Barratt who are ranked No. 2 and No. 8 respectively in points in the country. Together they have accumulated 90 points this season, with Limoges’ 22 goals leading the team.

In the first round of the Big Ten tournament against Wisconsin, it was junior forward Liam Folkes who stepped up for the Nittany Lions. In the three-game series against the Badgers, Folkes scored three points in each game, finishing the series with three goals and six assists, good enough to earn the NCAA Second Star of the Week.

Folkes is No. 3 on the team and tied for No. 12 in the NCAA with 41 points this season.

Penn State also holds the No. 4 power play in the nation, having scored 32 power-play goals this year on a 26.23 percent success rate.

While the Nittany Lions have proven their offense is their strength, they have also proven their defense to be their weak point. Penn State’s defense is one of the worst in the nation, allowing, 3.65 goals per game, good for the fourth-most goals allowed in the NCAA.

The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are ranked No. 13 with 2.24 goals allowed per game and have the No. 2 goaltender in save percentage in the nation, sophomore Tommy Nappier.

The teams have played four games so far this season, with Ohio State winning three and losing one, outscoring Penn State 18-11 through the season series.

The semifinals match between top-seeded Ohio State and No. 4 seed Penn State will be hosted at the Schottenstein Center, and takes place at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.