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Penn State Hockey: Season Recap, Stretch Run Preview

Penn State hockey has seen a terrific season thus far.



Mar 14, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Penn State's Oskar Autio (35) makes a stop against Notre Dame at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael Caterina/South Bend Tribune-USA TODAY NETWORK
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No. 6 Penn State hockey currently boasts an 18-7-1 (8-7-1 Big Ten) record as it heads to Ann Arbor to take on No. 7 Michigan. How did we get here and what’s next? Let’s take a look.

Penn State hockey season recap (thus far)

This season always had potential for Penn State hockey. Even a casual fan would have been excited at the thought of this year’s squad after watching a freshman-laden Nittany Lion team become the first ever road team to win a Best-of-3 series in the Big Ten Tournament last March.

A week later, they nearly stunned Minnesota on their home ice, a team that went on to play in the Frozen Four. Despite that run that filled the fanbase with hope, the team would still have to prove on the ice that they were worthy of returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018.

To make things more pressing, this is the last year till 2025 that Penn State is scheduled to “host” the first round of the tournament in Allentown, PA. As the host, if Penn State makes the tournament, they will be placed in the Allentown Regional, regardless of seeding.

Being in Eastern PA, this makes for a very easy trip for students and a very large portion of the alumni base. Penn State played their last tournament game there in 2018 and the coaches of all four teams in the regional agreed it was the best environment they had ever seen for an NCAA Tournament game.

The goal for Penn State is to make the tournament every year, but they really want to make it this year, the last chance for a little bit to play de facto home games in the tournament. 

Penn State has already come a long way from the team that went on that run in the Big Ten Tournament. They started the season with their typical sacrificial non-conference opponents. However, these supposed sacrificial opponents haven’t always been such for the Lions in years past.

In 2020, they didn’t play a non-conference schedule due to the pandemic but in each year before this one, they have lost to a non-conference team they should have beaten. In 2021, they lost to Canisius. In 2019, they lost to Alaska. In 2018, they lost to Arizona State.

In 2017, they lost to Mercyhurst. That is not to say it was always easy for Penn State this year. They flirted with disaster against St. Thomas and Alaska. But, at the end of the day, they’ve beaten everyone they were supposed to.

After finishing non-conference play with a sweep of a ranked RIT team on New Year’s Eve, Penn State posted a 10-0-0 in the non-conference. It is the first time in program history that they have gone undefeated in this portion of the schedule. 

Where the Lions have really made their money so far has been in conference play.

They started the conference season with a trip to Madison, WI to take on the Badgers. They swept them easily with a goaltending performance from Liam Souliere that saw him play shutout hockey for the better part of those two games. That hot goaltending carried into the next series, one that saw then-#1 Michigan come to town.

It was only the second time a #1 team had come to Pegula. A 17 save performance from Souliere led to a 3-0 shutout of the Wolverines, securing the programs first win over a #1 ranked team ever. They almost did it again the next night, rallying from a 3 goal deficit in the latter half of the 3rd period before ultimately falling in overtime.

They wouldn’t have to wait long for their next chance at taking down a #1 ranked team. That would come just 6 days later when the team traveled to Minnesota. They were able to do something no team had ever done, and that was beat a different #1 ranked opponent in back-to-back weeks. They did end up losing the Friday night game, resulting in a split. Still, no shame in a split on the road against the nation’s best team at the time.

The first result you could realistically be disappointed in this season came the following weekend. Michigan State, and a rare national ranking for them, came to Pegula. They were able to squeak out a 4-3 win in the Friday night game, but needed a few late goals to steal a game that the Spartans deserved to win. Michigan State left nothing to chance on Saturday when they dominated Penn State 7-3. It was Penn State’s worst performance of the season.

A quick turnaround from that series led to the aforementioned near disaster against Alaska, only winning by a goal in both games that could have easily gone the other way. After the Thanksgiving Break, Ohio State came to Pegula.

Penn State was able to win a thriller 2-1 with a late goal in the Friday game, but yet again fell short on Saturday. The last series of the first half came in South Bend against Notre Dame. It was another ranked team, another Friday night win and another Saturday loss. In fact, each weekend since the end of October has played out very similarly for Penn State. They have had a brutal schedule, only facing one unranked opponent (Alaska) since October 29th.

They have won the first game of each of those series, yet lost the second. This isn’t entirely uncommon, we saw Penn State follow a similar trend in the 2019-2020, 2018-2019 and 2017-2018 seasons. For two of those years it was enough to secure an NCAA bid (they would have made the canceled tournament in 2020), but it was splitting series that ultimately cost them a berth in 2018-2019. Still it is hard to fault the Lions for much in the first half.

The second half did not start as planned for Penn State. A road trip to Michigan State saw the team fail to find a win all weekend for the first time this year. An overtime loss and a shootout loss saw the Lions pick up some points in the Big Ten standings, but not nearly enough to keep up with Minnesota at the top.

Last weekend started shaky as well with a 2-1 home loss to Notre Dame. After winning the first game of every series all year, Penn State has not dropped two straight series openers. The team rebounded in front of the largest crowd in Pegula Ice Arena history to come from behind twice to beat Notre Dame 3-2. As of now, the team sits at #3 in the Pairwise.

Since the Pairwise is the sole determinant of NCAA Tournament selection and seeding, Penn State would be a #1 seed nationally if the season ended today. 

 Even if expectations were high, this start exceeded the expectations of most. Penn State won 6 conference games during the entirety of the 2021-2022 season and 7 during the entirety of the 2020-2021 season. They have already won 8 and January is not over yet.

In addition, the team has already eclipsed their overall win total from last year. If one were to grade Penn State’s season so far, they deserve nothing short of an A. 

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Penn State hockey faces Michigan with Frozen Four on the line

Can Penn State hockey overcome a familiar foe to reach the Frozen Four for the first time ever?



Penn State hockey, Michigan, Frozen Four
Mar 14, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre DameÕs Solag Bakich (25) gets tied up with Penn State's Jimmy Dowd Jr. (6) and Kenny Johnson (15) as Oskar Autio (35) defends the net at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael Caterina/South Bend Tribune-USA TODAY NETWORK

Allentown, PA — In March, the name of the game is “survive and advance.” Penn State hockey won an NCAA tournament game Friday night for the first time since 2017 when they dominated Michigan Tech 8-0. It was the largest shutout margin of victory in NCAA tournament history. This was part of a more extensive domination by the Big Ten in the first round of the tournament, with the four teams from the conference who made the tournament winning by a combined score of 36-4. And now, the Nittany Lions face Michigan for the right to go to the Frozen Four. 

The Wolverines had one of the most impressive victories of Friday’s action. They obliterated a hot Colgate team by a score of 11-1. Those 11 goals are the most scored in an NCAA tournament game since 1961. A top-five team in all major polls, Wolverines are one of the most dominant teams in the country. In short, Penn State hockey has its work cut out for it if it wants to make its first Frozen Four appearance in program history. 

University of Michigan Snapshot

Name: University of Michigan

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Enrollment: 48,090

Acceptance Rate: 26%

Conference: Big Ten 

Men’s Hockey National Titles: 9

Scouting the Wolverines

You are likely much more familiar with Michigan than Penn State’s first-round opponent. This will be Penn State’s fifth meeting with the Wolverines this season, with the Lions holding a 1-3 record in the prior meetings.

The teams first met in November when No. 1 ranked Michigan came to Pegula. Penn State beat Michigan 3-0 in the first game of that series, marking their first win over a No. 1 ranked team. The following night the Lions fell 4-3 in overtime. Still, they rallied from a three-goal deficit late in the third period to send it to overtime. 

But Michigan wasn’t at full strength during that series. They were missing multiple key players due to a virus outbreak on the team that sent players to the hospital and nearly cost junior defenseman Steven Holtz his life. Michigan regained its health, rallied around that harrowing experience, and became a better hockey team. 

Penn State traveled to Michigan in mid-January, where the Lions were swept. In the first game, the Lions were blown out 7-3. The second game saw them lead 3-0 and 4-2 before falling 5-4. 

And even then, Michigan was not at full strength. Freshman forward Frank Nazar, a first-round selection in the 2022 NHL Draft, had yet to put on a Wolverines uniform due to injury. Now he has. He scored a goal in his NCAA tournament debut against Colgate Friday night. 

Michigan’s roster received numerous awards. Freshman forward Adam Fantilli, who will be a lottery pick this year, was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He was also a First Team All-Big Ten Selection along with sophomore defenseman Luke Hughes. Hughes is so talented that the New Jersey Devils, who drafted him 4th overall, are anxiously awaiting Michigan’s elimination so he can help the NHL club in their playoff race.

Outside of the stars, Michigan’s depth can more than fill whatever role is needed to help their team win. That is one of the reasons they are such a dangerous team, one that has picked up wins over Harvard, Boston University, and Minnesota en route to a Big Ten championship.

Can Penn State hockey make the Frozen Four?

Michigan is nothing short of an offensive juggernaut. The Wolverines showcased it all year, but nothing was as impressive as Friday night’s performance against a quality Colgate team. But they lack a bit in the defensive depth and goaltending department relative to their forwards. 

Penn State will have the crowd behind them again on Sunday, perhaps even more so than Friday, with a convenient early evening start time. However, Michigan is no stranger to these Penn State crowds, already having played at Pegula this season

The Nittany Lions have been competitive in three of the four games against Michigan this season. That shouldn’t change Sunday, even if the talent gap has continued to grow since these teams last met. Penn State should be able to hang around into the third period. Still, Michigan’s high-end talent will prevail and send the Wolverines back to the Frozen Four for the second straight year. 

Michigan-5, Penn State-3 

The winner of this game will go on to the Frozen Four, taking place in Tampa, FL, on April 6th and 8th. The matchup in the national semifinals will be against the Quinnipiac and Ohio State winner in the Bridgeport Regional Final on Saturday. 

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Penn State softball walks off Iowa in Big Ten opener

The Nittany Lions walked it off for the second game in a row.



Penn State softball, Iowa
Credit: Basic Blues Nation, 2023.

State College — After a fantastic start to the season in non-conference play, the Nittany Lions now move into their Big Ten schedule. Penn State softball opened Big Ten play at home versus Iowa on Friday. It was a tight game, but much like their last game, the Lions walked it off in extra innings for a win.

Lions win in walk-off fashion (again)

Pitcher Bailey Parshall started the game with a walk but struck out the next batter to get out of the inning. On the Penn State side of the first, a single by Emily Maddock was set to begin an offensive flurry for the Nittany Lions but was followed by three straight outs.

The Iowa bats were quiet in the second as Parshall worked a 1-2-3 inning. Penn State made things interesting in their half of the second when Liana Jones reached second on an error, but the Lions did not capitalize. Iowa was left scoreless again in the third inning by Parshall. Penn State was also held scoreless.

Iowa got on the board in the fourth inning from a fielder’s choice double play that allowed the runner from third to score. Penn State showed promise in the bottom of the fifth with two runners on, but a line drive to center field was caught and ended the inning.

Penn State was able to tie the game 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning when a Lexie Black triple led to a sacrifice fly by Michelle Leone.

The Lions almost walked it off in the seventh inning after a ground ball hit by Melody Coombs was bobbled by the Iowa shortstop. Lilia Crouthamel was running to home from second but was thrown out just in time to send the game into extra innings.

The Hawkeyes took the lead in the top of the eighth inning after a sacrifice fly. However, the Nittany Lions answered right away in the bottom of the eighth inning with a double by Michelle Leone that scored Lydia Coleman, which tied the game 2-2.  

Iowa was left scoreless in the top of the ninth, which gave Penn State a chance to win. And they delivered. On a 1-0 pitch, Liana Jones belted a home run that hit the scoreboard to win the game 3-2. It marked the second straight game that went to extra innings and featured a walk-off hit for Penn State softball.

Ace pitcher Bailey Parshall picked up her twelfth win of the season. She allowed three hits, one earned run, and struck out five batters.

Coach Crowell: “If we keep fighting that way, we’re gonna win a lot of games”

In the post-game press conference, Head Coach Clarisa Crowell talked about how the team fights. She said that the dugout never acts like they are down and are “tough and gritty” day in and day out.

On Parshall hitting the 100 strikeout landmark this season, Coach Crowell said she and her team do not “focus on results” but instead “focus on the process.”

On the fact that her team got its second straight win in extra innings in walk-off fashion, Coach Crowell stated that experience is certainly a part of sustaining that success and continued on the theme that the team “just continues to fight.”

Jones: “overwhelmed” by the walk-off win

When asked how she felt about the walk-off win and her home run, Liana Jones said she was “overwhelmed.” She also stated that her team and coach are her “biggest fans of all time,” which is very fitting given the culture that Coach Crowell professed the team has. 

Parshall on the umpire’s strike zone: “have to adapt”

When asked about her thoughts on the umpire’s strike zone in the game, Parshall hesitantly stated that it is about adapting to “throw better pitches” and “getting better play calls behind the plate.” She also maintained that it teaches the team to “keep composure.”

What’s on deck for Penn State softball?

Penn State plays next Sunday in a doubleheader to finish the series against Iowa. The first pitch is scheduled for 11 am for Game 1, while Game 2 is scheduled for 1:30 pm.

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Penn State Baseball Blows Out Binghamton

Hot bats led the Lions to yet another win on Tuesday.



Penn State Baseball, Binghamton
Mar 20, 2023; Jupiter, Florida, USA; A general view of sunflower seeds and baseball bats in the Miami Marlins dugout during a game St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

State College — The Nittany Lions have really been rounding into form on the diamond the last few weeks, winning four of their previous five games. On Tuesday, Penn State baseball made it five of its last six when it dominated Binghamton 15-1 under the lights at Medlar Field.

Penn State Bats Start Early

This game was practically all Penn State. Binghamton capitalized early on a series of hits that loaded the bases to get on the board in the third inning. But Penn State answered right back in their half of the third inning when Ben Kaliher scored on a wild pitch. 

Penn State would continue scoring in the fourth inning with a three-run blast from first baseman Anthony Steele to give the Lions the 4-1 lead. The shot was Steele’s first home run of the season. Kyle Hannon continued his impressive season with another home run in the fifth inning, putting Penn State up 5-1. That marks his fifth home run of the year, which leads the team.

Lions Pour it on Binghamton Late

The scoring continued for Penn State baseball when Jay Harry hit a double in the seventh inning to score a run. A wild pitch allowed Thomas Bramley to score and increased Penn State’s lead to 7-1. Johnny Piacentino hit a single that scored two runners. Anthony Steele later hit a sacrifice fly to score Piacentino, making the score 10-1. The Nittany Lions would cap off a six-run seventh inning after Jake Cooper hit a single up the middle that scored Tyson Cooper and made the score 11-1.

The Lions would add four more runs in the eighth inning with a single from C.J. Pittaro and a Tayven Kelley bases-clearing triple, which put the Lions up 15-1.

Starting pitcher Ben Demell had a stellar first career start, pitching 3.2 innings, striking out two, and giving up one earned run. Binghamton was shut out by the other pitchers in the game, with Ryan Partridge picking up the win. First baseman Anthony Steele also pitched in relief in this game, striking out two batters. Steele was a pitcher in high school, so this was nothing new for him, though new to this role in Happy Valley.

Penn State baseball improves to 12-5 on the year and seeks to ride the momentum into Ann Arbor on Friday to take on the Michigan Wolverines in the Lions’ first conference matchup.

Thank you for reading Basic Blues Nation. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and insights on your favorite Penn State athletics.

For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email us at or direct message us on our social media. It’s due to your support that we can become one of the market’s fastest-growing Penn State sports outlets!

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