Discipline is an important quality to have in hockey players, and Penn State is a young team.
Last weekend’s road trip to Holy Cross provided multiple tests of mental toughness as the Nittany Lions faced adversity in both games, assistant coach Matt Lindsay said.
On Friday, the Lions allowed three unanswered goals as Holy Cross completed a comeback in overtime.
Momentum really shifted after the Crusaders got within a goal of tying the game late in the third period, Lindsay said.
“You have to find a way to quell their momentum and hold on to get the victory,” Lindsay said. “I think it is a learning experience. We have a lot of guys that are playing their first year of Division I college hockey. It is an experience we went through and obviously would have liked to have a different result.”
The sin bin has also been popular place for the Lions. They lead the nation with an average of 18.92 penalty minutes per game.
In Saturday’s loss to Holy Cross, the Lions racked up 12 penalties totaling 40 penalty minutes.
Lindsay felt that the team could not work on its game like they had hoped because of the penalties.
“Sometimes it is tough to gain momentum and play your game when you spend so much time killing penalties,” Lindsay said. “Whether it is a tough goal, [giving up] a two-goal lead or dealing with a lot of penalties, you have to find a way to take a step forward and make the best out of it.”
The penalty kill has been a bright spot for the Nittany Lions. Penn State has killed off 51 out of 63 penalties (81 percent), however they do not want to have to rely on that too much.
Sophomore forward Max Gardiner thought the team’s mental toughness was much improved on Saturday despite the number of penalties.
“It was good to see us kill a lot of penalties,” Gardiner said. “We have to minimize our penalties. We want to become known as a less-penalized team.”
Gardiner said it was actually a good thing that the Lions faced some adversity, and he thinks the team has to keep a positive attitude despite not getting the results they that wanted.
Freshman forward David Glen said the team has a better idea of how it matches up with other teams. Glen also attributed some of the struggles on the team still creating its identity.
“I don’t think we have fully established it yet,” Glen said. “We obviously have some stuff we need to take care of. We have pride in our game, and I think [because of] the losses lately, we want to bounce back.”