Photo Credit: Penn State Athletics (www.gopsusports.com)

Photo Credit: Penn State Athletics (www.gopsusports.com)

Even as Penn State sports hurdle toward the end of spring season and the imminent start of fall football, it is important to pay homage to the incredible, record-breaking no. 8 men’s hockey team and their epic 2016-17 season.

  1. When the team defeated then-No. 3 Notre Dame in a shocking overtime. A notoriously difficult team, the Fighting Irish gave Penn State its first real test of the 2016-17 season. It was Andrew Sturtz (Buffalo, N.Y.) who locked in the win for Penn State, setting up the team for a magical season to come.

 

  1. When Denis Smirnov (Moscow, Russia) was featured on SportsCenter for his epic goal against Michigan State during a Penn State win. Smirnov’s goal came late in the third period, with less than three minutes to go, proving that the Lions just don’t quit.

 

  1. When Penn State swept Michigan in December 2016. Michigan had been a rival of the Lions’ since the very start of Penn State’s program. The Blue and White swept the Wolverines 6-1 and 5-1 for a weekend filled with momentum and adrenaline.

 

  1. In a similar vein, Penn State crushed another Michigan-based team just two weeks later. The Lions clinched a critical conference win against Michigan State by sweeping them 5-2 and 5-3. This series sweep would later be critical for the Lions in obtaining the Big Ten Championship.

 

  1. But before clinching the Big Ten Championship, Penn State was named No. 1 in the country for the first time ever in program history. Prior to being named No. 1, Penn State had never been ranked higher than No. 4 in the nation. Talk about improvement!

 

  1. Speaking of the Big Ten Championship… of course that made the list! Winning the Big Ten Championship after a harrowing three games silenced any and all critics who claimed Penn State was too young of a program to accomplish any big feats.

 

  1. In order to win the Big Ten Championship, the Blue and White played not one, but two games with double overtime (in a row!) against Minnesota and Wisconsin. Freshman Liam Folkes (Scarborough, Ontario) notched both goals against Wisconsin, proving that even the youngest guys on the team were playing at the highest level in college hockey.

 

  1. Penn State was slated to play one of the best teams in the nation for the first round of the NCAA Tournament: 2014 National Champions Union College. Despite the hype that Union might crush the Lions, Penn State yet again defied critics and trounced Union 10-3. The team had never let up 10 goals in a game before this competition.

 

  1. Although Penn State was then taken down by No. 1 Denver in a 6-3 loss, this still was one of the best moments of the season. So many fans and opponents alike did not think Penn State would make it far enough to ever play against a legendary team like Denver, and when they did get there, the Lions most certainly held their own.

 

  1. When Penn State secured the next generation of Blue and White college hockey players for years to come. This season quite literally changed the game for Penn State. PSU is now a destination for recruits from all over the world, and we can’t wait to see what the team will do next year.

 

Kristin is a member of the Class of 2017 at Penn State University. She is a Public Relations and Spanish double major who will be relocating to Denver post-grad. Kristin is passionate about writing stories that foster a sense of community through athletics. When she is not writing, Kristin is an avid triathlete who is always game for a run with friends.

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