Practice makes perfect, but Penn State hardly had any time to improve its game following its losses to Syracuse on Friday and Saturday.
Usually, the team plays a two-game series on Friday and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday. While the Nittany Lions (7-16-1, 1-10-1 CHA) still play at the end of the week, they had only one day of practice this week before their next game, a one-game set against Princeton (6-12-2, 2-10-2 ECAC) Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion.
Assistant coach Gina Kearns said that while the traveling involved in the recent trip to Syracuse was not too long, the coaches did take fatigue into account to a certain extent. With a day off on Sunday, she said the Lions treated Monday’s practice like any other pre-game practice — they worked on a few technical things, gave the goalies enough shots on net and then got off the ice.
Forward Jess Desorcie also pointed out that the team did not lift in the morning either.
“It definitely was nice to get a little bit of extra rest,” she said.
Besides the chance to take a break from waking up early to lift weights, the unusual Tuesday contest will also give the Lions a chance to correct some things that led to their losses against the Orange without waiting a full week to play again. Kearns said that she liked the opportunity to play another game so soon.
“You have a chance to maybe not play the same team, but correct some of those things that are so fresh in our minds, go out there against a new opponent and see what we can do,” Kearns said.
“We know some of the mistakes that we made, and we worked on a couple of them today, so they’ll be an easy fix for tomorrow.”
Desorcie also said that losing so many close games is getting hard, so it is good to have an opportunity to bounce back almost right away with Princeton.
The Tigers will be the third ECAC opponent the Lions have faced this year. The other two, St. Lawrence and Union, both swept the Lions, but every game was decided by no more than two goals.
In next-to-last place with six points, the Tigers are only three points ahead of Union in the ECAC standings. Knowing that they have skated well against teams around the same level of play, Desorcie said the Lions are heading into Tuesday’s game confident in themselves.
“I think everyone has really good feelings about [Princeton]. Most of the teams that we have been playing lately since the break have been really close,” Desorcie said. “We’re just trying to play our game, and hopefully come out on top against Princeton.”
Despite four consecutive losses, players on the team have said that there are plenty of positives to take from recent series that can be carried over into the game against the Tigers.
“Honestly, I think we improved over the last weekend. I think we’re taking positives out of the weekend,” team captain Taylor Gross said.
“Our [defensive] zone coverage, our break-outs, moving the puck really well, just stuff like that. Definitely, the effort was all there.”