What does Penn State Hockey have to improve to win a national championship?
The Nittany Lions just split a series against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, improving their overall record to 15-5-0 on the year. Officially marking the midway point on the season, Penn State will have 20 days off before facing RIT on New Year’s Eve weekend.
Currently second in the Big Ten, the Lions will be battling for a Big Ten title come March.
Even more important will be the frozen four national tournaments held in Amelia Arena on April 6th & 8th, 2023.
Here’s a look at what Penn State Hockey must improve to win a National Championship
In Penn State Hockey’s 5-3 loss Saturday night against Notre Dame, they outshot them 50-22 and went 1 for 7 on the man advantage.
The Lions have now only captured one Saturday series-closing victory throughout the six conference matchups they have had.
Penn State Hockey currently holds a .177 powerplay percentage conversation rate, barely above Ohio State for last in the Big Ten.
The last two national champions held similar powerplay percentages to the current Big Ten leader, Michigan (0.270%). 2021-2022 National Champion Denver Pioneers had a (.241 %), while 2020-2021 National Champ UMass held a (.236 %).
It’s no surprise that the best teams in college hockey capitalize when given the opportunity too, and if not figured out in the second half, it could hinder Penn State from becoming national champs.
Fixing the Powerplay & Stringing Wins Together
Each year, six conference champions receive automatic bids to the 16-team selection process for the NCAA road to the championship.
For Penn State Hockey to be crowned national champions, they will need to win four straight games against juggernaut opponents in a single elimination fashion.
Creating a heavy focus on stringing together wins against the top 20 opponents that much more vital for the second half of the year. A huge step towards accomplishing this will be reliant on a consistent powerplay percentage.
Future matchups to watch this for will include Michigan State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, and Minnesota. All are being played before the date of February 20th. I am not ready to call Penn State hockey national contenders until the Lions prove this issue is resolved.