Penn State lost both contests against the Black Knights in 1944 and 1947, the last time the Nittany Lions had a varsity program. But Friday night, a new era and new team will get the chance to avenge those losses, as Penn State travels to Tate Rink Arena to open a two game road weekend set, starting with Army at 7:05 p.m.
They always have a tough team, so we have to go in there and be ready right when the puck drops, PSU coach Guy Gadowsky said Thursday afternoon. We have to be ready to go.
Gadowsky's message of a quick start hinges much on the Nittany Lions' Friday night loss a week ago, when they dropped a 3-0 decision to Buffalo State despite outshooting the hosts 35-26. Penn State was much better a night later, quieting a sold-out RIT crowd with a suspenseful 3-2 victory to move the Lions to 2-2 on the young season.
P.J. Musico will draw the start in net Friday night, a change from the last two weekends where freshman Matthew Skoff drew the Friday night start of a weekend double header, and Musico the backend Saturday.
P.J. is hot right now, so we're going to ride him this weekend, Gadowsky said. That doesn't mean Skoff isn't going to play, because he's been great. But right now, we're going to get P.J. in there.
Musico has accounted for both of the Nittany Lions wins thus far, having stopped 93 percent of the shots he faced to go along with a 2.49 goals-against average. The sophomore netminder is on a roll, but said Thursday that there is a healthy competition between the pipes between himself, Skoff and junior Matt Madrazo.
Matt and I were of course on the team last year, but we've really enjoyed having Skoff join the team, and it makes us all better to be competing against each other, Musico said. We've formed a really close bond.
Offensively, Penn State will continue to look for production from its most dominant line to date. The trio of Kenny Brooks, David Glen and Curtis Loik, who have developed an immediate chemistry.
When we brought these guys in, I think all of the coaches were excited to see what these guys could do together, and so far, we're really pleased with what we've seen, Gadowsky said. As an opponent, you hate playing against a gritty guy that plays two ways and is physical, and instead of just one guy, this line give us three guys that do all of that.
After Friday night's game, Penn State will bus to Milford, Conn., where it will take on a Sacred Heart side that split a pair of games with the Black Knights last weekend, losing the first and winning the second in overtime.