The BIG Ten team with the best overall record among it's conference mates comes to Anchorage this weekend. It's not Minnesota or Michigan or Michigan State or Wisconsin and of course it's not Ohio State. It's the Penn State Nittany Lions and UAA has never beaten them.
What's a Nittany? It's some little hill in Pennsylvania that someone called Mt. Nittany; where there were once Mountain Lions. Yeah sure ... ok. Mountain Lions ... in Pennsylvania. When? 8000 years ago? Maybe. Anyway, the Seawolves have never lost to Penn State and I think there's no reason for that to happen this weekend. The Seawolves are a better team on paper and have shown on the ice they're capable of beating anyone.
Penn State is 6-2-2 at this point in their season. They beat Canisius, then split with Notre Dame then beat AIC twice before tieing and losing to St. Larry, tieing Niagara and then wholloping Sacred Heart for two games. Their strength of schedule is currently 51.
They've got 44 goals in those ten games. 4.4 goals per game is effing massive in this day and age. Massive. We're pretty excited about our 3.2 goals per game so ... you get it. But putting up a couple of 8 spots against AIC and Sacred Heart? I don't want to say they aren't offensively talented but the context gives one pause.
The Nittany's have a coupla/three freshman who are definitely bringing it in their 1st year of college hockey. Chase Berger (8g), Alec Marsh (5g) and Andrew Sturtz (4g) have contributed 17 of the teams total goals. Berge and Marsh have real nice shooting percentages in the low 20s.
More importantly than these freshman contributing to PSU's success this season are three veteran players. Senior Curtis Loik (3g-9a), junior David Goodwin (3g-8a) and senior Kenny Brooks (3g-7a) are players who will have to be watched.
Coach Guy Gadowsky has two goaltenders playing in a rotation (Eamon McAdam and Matthew Skoff). They've each played 5 games and have a combined goals against average of 2.78. I'd expect he'll use the rest of his non-conference schedule for one of these two guys to emerge as a number one.
Roster surfing and statistics research gives me no real pause or overriding concern about matching-up against this PSU team.
But this week there's one reason the Seawolves will get two more important wins. Defenseman Chris Williams. He's from eastern Pa and so I'd imagine he isn't any sort of PSU fan. That'd be like living in Anchorage and being a Nanook fan ... that's just all sorts of messed up.
Senior Chris Williams has zero goals in his college hockey career. That will change this weekend as he and his teammates dispatch the team with the best record in the BIG Ten.
November is Men's Health Month and the organization Movember needs your help to fund and advance Men's health issues. Each November across the US lots of guys grow various facial hair in support of the effort. You already know that Chris Williams has THE EPIC beard in Division 1 hockey ... Now you know the reason UAA wins twice this weekend and Willie gets the goal monkey off his back. The Beard. Go to the Movember website and contribute.