The Nittany Lions controlled their own destiny with room to spare on Friday afternoon. By the end of the night, they were in trouble, having dropped a 4-2 decision to the Big Ten’s bottom-feeders, Michigan State. Two wins and six points would have Penn State sitting a lot prettier, but it was only able to claim three points in its 3-2 win on Saturday. Chase Berger and Andrew Sturtz each scored in the first period then Alex Limoges added another in the second, giving Peyton Jones a two-goal lead to protect in the third.
Next weekend, Penn State will host Minnesota with the coveted fourth spot in the Big Ten standings on the line. Here’s how things stand heading into the final weekend of the season:
|1. Notre Dame||16-5-1-1||50|
|2. Ohio State||12-8-2-1||39|
|5. Penn State||7-10-5-2||28|
|7. Michigan State||5-15-2-1||18|
Notre Dame already clinched the only first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament, and Ohio State and Michigan will host series at home. Minnesota or Penn State will claim the final home series (because of tiebreakers they hold, Wisconsin can’t claim sole possession of fourth place -- and it probably won’t sweep Ohio State to get there, anyway).
Penn State needs to win both games in regulation this weekend to ensure that there will be more hockey at Pegula Ice Arena before the fall. After this weekend, a Big Ten Tournament series against someone currently ranked 2-6 is in store.