Although there are still four games left on its regular season schedule, Penn State has the chance to get a small taste of what is possibly in store when conference playoffs begin.
The Nittany Lions (7-20-2, 1-13-2 CHA) travel to Rochester, N.Y. to face RIT (12-13-5, 5-6-5 CHA) on Friday and Saturday. The College Hockey America standings are far from set in stone — the Tigers and Robert Morris are currently tied for third place with 15 points — but depending on how the remainder of the season plays out, the upcoming series could serve as a playoff preview.
The Lions are nearly locked in as the last-place team in the CHA standings, which would give them a No. 6 seed when the first round kicks off on March 1. Since the top two teams receive a bye in the first round, the Lions would play the No. 3 seed, which could be RIT.
Forward Micayla Catanzariti said that she sees the series as a look ahead to the postseason a bit.
“You can look at it like that. It’s one of our last weekends, so it’ll be a good [opportunity] to see where we’re at,” said Catanzariti.
Assistant captain Lindsay Reihl said she is instead just focused on taking things one game at a time.
“We haven’t played RIT in months, so we’re kind of just looking to get back, play them just [like] a regular season game and see where either team is at,” Reihl said.
The last time the Lions played the Tigers, it was the beginning of a three-weekend homestand, and only their second home series of the season, on Oct. 25 and 26, 2012.
After a 1-1 tie after one period, the Tigers pulled away to take the first game, 4-1. However, they had to climb back to force a 2-2, overtime tie the next day — the Lions led by one goal until there was 1:29 remaining in regulation.
Catanzariti said she is expecting another pair of close contests with the Tigers.
“It’ll be exciting. I think we’re going to be a pretty good matchup,” she said. “They’ve gotten better, we’ve gotten better, but I think it’s going to be a game that I think we can come out with two wins.”