No. 11 Ohio State (6-3-1, 2-2 Big Ten) returns to action this weekend as it travels to State College, Pennsylvania, to take on No. 6 Penn State (9-2-0, 5-1).
The series will be a shot at revenge for Ohio State, which lost to Penn State this past season in a single-elimination Big Ten Tournament game 5-1 at home.
“Not only did they knock us out of the tournament, but they kind of embarrassed us in our hometown here,” senior forward Carson Meyer said. “We definitely haven’t forgotten that, and I don’t know, I want to take it to them Friday night and then do it again Saturday.”
The Buckeyes are coming off a bye week and will see their first action since getting swept on the road against Notre Dame.
“I thought we played two pretty good hockey games up there at Notre Dame and probably could’ve gone either way, and we just have to try and not make, or limit, some of those mistakes we made up there,” head coach Steve Rohlik said.
Ohio State took advantage of the week off, as players were granted time off to mend.
“I think the main thing was just recovering,” redshirt senior defenseman Wyatt Ege said. “We had a couple guys who were banged up a little bit and the main thing was just getting our bodies ready. Especially for a team like Penn State.”
Penn State’s offense is among the best in the country, as it has the No. 3 scoring offense in the nation with an average of 4.7 goals per game.
“High-octane offense. They have a lot of high-end skill,” freshman defenseman Layton Ahac said. “We know their style of play. We just need to stick to our systems and it’ll fall into place.”
The Nittany Lion offense is led by senior forward Nate Sucese, who has the third-most points in the NCAA with 18. This past weekend, he became the all-time leading goal-scorer for Penn State and has the second-most goals on the team with six this season.
“We got to play smart. We got to possess the puck, kind of stick to what the coaches have been talking about all week,” Ege said.
Ohio State will have to rely on team defense in order to keep pucks out of the net this weekend, something it has done often this year. As the No. 5 scoring defense in the nation, Ohio State allows an average of 1.8 goals per game.
“They go at you. They put everything on the net, and we understand that,” Rohlik said. “What we got to do is be disciplined in what we do. We got to surround [junior goaltender Tommy Nappier] and be good defensively and be connected and that’s going to give ourselves a chance offensively.”
Nappier is No. 10 in the country with a .935 save percentage and No. 7 in goals-against average at 1.79.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday at Penn State.