After two tough, overtime losses against ranked teams, Ohio State captured their first win of the season last Saturday against Marquette inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. To keep up the momentum, the Buckeyes will face off against future Big Ten rival Penn State on Saturday, when the Nittany Lions come to Ohio Stadium for the Creator's Trophy game.
Penn State is led by attackman Shane Sturgis, who ranks second in the nation in goals with 14 in only three games. Sturgis scored five of the team's eight goals in an upset win over #4 Notre Dame last weekend. Sturgis' fellow attackman TJ Sanders can also put the ball in the back of the net, as he is tied with Ohio State's Jesse King with nine goals on the season.The Nittany Lions as an offensive unit can score with the best teams in the country, as they rank 13th in the country in goals scored with 41.
Pre- Season CAA All-Conference goalie Austin Kaut anchors the back end for the Nittany Lions; his 13 saves held the high octane Fighting Irish to only seven goals last week. The team defense as a whole improved from the week before when they allowed 12 goals in a 12-11 loss to #8 Loyola.
The Buckeye defense will have their hands full with Sturgis and the rest of the Nittany Lion attack but if they play great one-on-one defense the game should favor the Buckeyes. Sturgis likes to dodge from X (behind the net) and once he gets to the front of the net he tends to finish (14 goals on 22 shots). One drawback on the Penn State offense is that they only have 15 assists on their 41 goals this season and the lack of ball movement should favor the Ohio State defense.
Faceoff specialist Jake Withers will need to have a good day after having his best game last week (14 of 21) against Marquette. Withers is struggling this season with a .459 faceoff win percentage and he will have his hands full with Penn State's Drake Kreinz who is winning .574 of his faceoffs. As always, possession will be key, especially because the Nittany Lions turn the ball over the 10th fewest in the nation.
The Buckeyes are looking for their first quality win of the season after losses to #7 Johns Hopkins and #13 UMass and they can certainly do that this weekend against #10 Penn State.