Penn State Hockey

Mental toughness gets major test this week for Penn State hockey team

The Penn State men’s hockey team has shaken off some difficult games this season.

Perhaps the biggest test to their mental toughness comes this week.

Fresh off losing to Michigan twice last weekend, the teams tangle again in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament. And another Penn State loss could mean it plays itself out of the 16-team NCAA tournament.

“Just trying to turn the page and get ready for this week,” coach Guy Gadowsky said Monday at his weekly session with the media.

The No. 4-seeded Nittany Lions will meet the No. 5-seed Wolverines at 8 p.m. Thursday at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.

The Lions have four days to forget their 3-2 and 4-0 losses. They were considered near-locks to make the NCAA tournament just a week ago but, for the first time since December, Penn State has now dropped to No. 12 in the PairWise rankings, which are a strong indicator of the 16-team field.

“We’ve been very proud of how they’ve turned the page in several instances, and this is another one,” Gadowsky said. “We just got swept in games that were important, and I think it could be easy to get down and point fingers. We don’t see any of that.”

Defenseman Vince Pedrie said it’s all part of their culture.

“It’s short-term memory,” Pedrie said. “You can’t think about the games you won, can’t think about the games you lost. The only game that matters is what’s next on the calendar.”

On Friday, Penn State lost after holding the lead entering the third period for just the third time all season. On Saturday, two first-period goals were waived off by the officials, and the team could never get the puck into the net.

Shaking off tough losses is nothing new. A month ago, the Nittany Lions led Big Ten champ Minnesota but surrendered the tying goal with 3.5 seconds left in regulation and lost in overtime. The next weekend they swept Michigan State on the road.

Hitting the reset button will never be more important for their season than this week.

“We’re excited for Thursday,” senior forward Dylan Richard said. “We’re going to learn from this past weekend. Obviously it wasn’t the best weekend for us, but we’re going to learn from that and ready to get back on the ice.”