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PREVIEW: Penn State hockey looking to rebound after first loss

After suffering its first loss of the year last weekend, Penn State hockey looks to rebound against a team that will travel 8,000 miles to Pegula Ice Arena.



Penn State hockey
February 25, 2023. Penn State hockey warms up before a game against the Wisconsin Badgers. Credit: Basic Blues Nation, 2023.

It has been no secret the start to this college hockey season has been chaotic, with numerous major upsets. Penn State hockey was immune to these, despite some close calls, until last weekend. The AIC Yellow Jackets came into Pegula Ice Arena and stunned the Nittany Lions on Saturday to pick up their first win of the season. Penn State fell three spots in the polls, to No. 15, as a result. Penn State looks to rebound this weekend against the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves, who will travel over 8,000 miles round trip to take on the Nittany Lions.

Series Preview: Penn State (4-1) vs. Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves (3-3-0)

Series History: 3-2-1

Last played: November 11, 2016

Who are the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves?

The Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves, one of the few independents in college hockey, is far removed from relevance in the sport. Unlike their rivals to the north, Alaska-Fairbanks, whom Penn State played last year, it has been a long time since the Seawolves have had any type of success. The program has had one winning season since 1993, when it went 18-16-4 during the 2013-2014 campaign. The Seawolves have only appeared in three NCAA tournaments ever, all coming in the early 1990s. 

This year looks like there could be a bit of improvement under second-year head coach Matt Shasby. In its first six games, the team already has three wins. The Seawolves started the season with an upset win over UMass-Lowell, who is currently receiving votes in the national polls. They also stole a road win at Lake Superior State and have a home win against Air Force. This is impressive for a team that has won 15 games in the last five seasons. Alaska-Anchorage is on pace to shatter its win total of eight from last season.

Players to watch

The Seawolves have done this mainly on the back of strong goaltending play. Their starter, sophomore Jared Whale, struggled tremendously as a freshman. However, he has turned it around in a major way to start this year. In five starts, he has posted a 2.16 GAA along with a .925 save percentage. Both those numbers are hovering around top-20 nationally. 

Alaska-Anchorage’s top line also has a pair of forwards who have found their scoring touch. Junior Maximillion Helgeson has posted four goals and three assists while his linemate senior Ben Almquist has added two goals and four assists. 

However, there isn’t much depth on this team, and there aren’t any NHL draft picks to be found on the roster. Penn State hockey will be able to find success if it is able to solve Whale early and often while shutting down Helgeson and Almquist. 

Predictions: Penn State rebounds this weekend

With the loss to AIC last weekend, Penn State hockey has run out of room for error in its weak non-conference slate. In order to keep their NCAA tournament hopes intact, the Nittany Lions need to be essentially perfect the rest of the way until they get to the bulk of conference play. I think Penn State hockey is able to rebound nicely this weekend and get back on track with a sweep of the Seawolves. 

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Jaret is a Penn State alum who covers Penn State sports for Basic Blues Nation. He is very passionate about the Nittany Lions and loves sharing his passion for the school through writing.


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