SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Fourth-seeded Penn State will travel to No. 2 Notre Dame for the 2019 Big Ten Tournament Championship on Saturday evening with a berth in the NCAA Tournament field on the line in South Bend.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
Dates: Saturday, March 23
Place: Compton Family Ice Arena
Time: 8:00 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network
Streaming Video: BTN2Go/Fox Sports App
THIS WEEK’S MATCHUP
- Penn State advances to its second Big Ten Championship in the past three seasons following a 5-1 victory over Ohio State in the semifinals last weekend. The Nittany Lions will meet Notre Dame in a rematch of last year’s semifinal, a 3-2 victory by the Irish.
- This game features the winners of each of the last two tournament championships as Penn State enters its 16th Big Ten Tournament game marking the most all-time, the Nittany Lions have also won the most tournament games all-time with a 10-5 record. Each team is 1-0 in Big Ten Championship games.
- Penn State is 8-2 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament as a four-seed including its run to the championship in 2017.
- The Nittany Lions are 8-2-0 in their last ten Big Ten Tournament games dating back to the 2016-17 season including sending home a pair of college hockey blue-bloods twice during that stretch with a 3-0 record against Minnesota and a 3-1 record against Wisconsin.
- This marks just the second meeting between Penn State and Notre Dame in the Big Ten Tournament, but the 14th meeting all-time with the Irish holding the 7-4-2 edge. The teams split the season series this year with Notre Dame taking the opening game and Penn State winning the finale in each series.
- Notre Dame is yet to lose a Big Ten Tournament game since joining the conference last season as the Irish are 5-0 all-time outscoring opponents 11-5 including 5-1 in three games so far this season.
- Cale Morris leads all Big Ten goalies in tournament history with a .970 save percentage and a 0.97 goals against average in his five starts.
- The winner of this Big Ten Championship game will become the first two-time tournament champion in league history and will advance to the NCAA Tournament. The losing team’s season will come to an end.
SCOUTING NOTRE DAME
- Slightly inconsistent since the calendar turned to 2019, Notre Dame enters the weekend having won three-straight games in the Big Ten Tournament only allowing its opponents to score one goal combined.
- Notre Dame was just 3-13-2 during the regular season when scoring two goals or less, but have won each of its last three games without scoring more than two goals. Last season, The Irish went 8-7-2 under the same circumstances. Notre Dame currently ranks 28th in the nation averaging 2.86 goals per game and are 15-0-1 this season when scoring at least three goals per game.
- Goaltender Cale Morris has again been Notre Dame’s most valuable player ranking second in the Big Ten and seventh in the nation with a .930 save percentage, but his goals against average has spiked a little this season sitting at 2.19 also good for second in the conference but only 15th in the nation.
- The Irish have been without its early season goal leader in senior Joe Wegwerth since the middle of November due to a lower-body injury.
- Freshman Michael Graham has taken over the Irish offense since the turn of the calendar year ranking tied for third in the Big Ten and ninth in the nation with 11 goals, 12 overall. Cal Burke ranks second on the team with 11 goals while Colin Theisen and Dylan Malmquist have each added ten goals for Notre Dame. Bobby Nardella leads the team with 31 points from the backend while Malmquist and Burke have added 30 and 27, respectively.
- Notre Dame’s power-play ranks 13th nationally converting at 22.8 percent (31-for-136) while it’s PK is middle of the pack ranking 31st at 81.3 percent (87-for-107). The Irish are 11-for-40 with the man-advantage and 17-for-20 on the PK over their last 10 games with at least one power-play goal in five of their last six games.
B1G TOURNAMENT RECORDS
- Along with the most games played and most wins all-time in tournament history, Penn State’s 18 goals in four games so far is a new single-tournament goals record breaking the 15 goals scored by Michigan last season.
- Junior Liam Folkes leads all players in Big Ten history with 16 points in 10 Big Ten Tournament games. His eight goals and eight assists are also the most in tournament history. Folkes has scored at least one goal in six of his 10 tournament games.
- Sophomore Alex Limoges ranks second all-time in tournament history with 12 points on six goals and six assists in seven games. Limoges has registered at least one point in six of his seven Big Ten Tournament games with five multi-point games.
STREAKING THROUGH THE POSTSEASON
- Folkes is currently riding a career-best six-game point-streak with five goals and eight assists for 13 points during that stretch while his linemates, Limoges and Barratt, are each currently riding five-game point streaks.
- Limoges is also on a five-game goal streak, which is a career-high, having scored seven goals over his last five games.
- In seven career Big Ten Tournament games the BFL line has combined for 33 points on 14 goals and 19 assists averaging 4.71 points per game.
- Last Sunday sophomore forward Alex Limoges tied the national points lead becoming the first-ever Penn State player to hit 50 points in a single-season.
- Limoges registered his national-best 16th multi-point effort with an assist and the eventual game-winning goal as the Nittany Lions improved to 15-2-0 on the year when the sophomore scores a goal.
- Limoges’ goal on Sunday marked his 23rd of the season, good for tops in the Big Ten and tied for second nationally while also setting a new single-season program record for goals in the process.
- The sophomore is currently riding a career-best five game goal-streak having scored seven goals over his last five games starting with the regular season finale at Notre Dame three weeks ago.
NATE THE GREAT
- Junior Nate Sucese scored twice last Sunday with his highlight-reel empty-net goal marking the 50th of his career. The junior becomes just the third Nittany Lion in program history to hit the 50-goal mark as he currently sits just one goal shy of teammate Chase Berger and four goals shy of Andrew Sturtz ‘18 for the all-time Penn State record.
- Sucese is having a career-year ranking fifth on the team with 37 points and second with 19 goals, both marks are new career-highs. Sucese’s goal total ranks third in the Big Ten and tied for ninth nationally.
- The 2017 Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player always seems to rise to the occasion when his team needs him the most posting an 8-2-0 career record in the Big Ten Tournament with a 2.33 goals against average and a .932 save percentage.
- Jones has registered 30 or more saves in all-but-one of his Big Ten Tournament games including a career-high 51 saves during the 2017 Championship game, a 2-1 double-overtime victory against the Badgers. The junior also notched a 44-save performance in last year’s semifinal loss at Notre Dame, his third most in a single game all-time.
- Jones’ save percentage and goals against average rank sixth and eighth all-time in tournament history while the junior leads the entire Big Ten in tournament wins with eight and total saves with 358. His logged time of 668:49 is also more than 230 minutes higher than his closest competitor in former Buckeye Christian Frey at 438:31.
RECORD SETTING OFFENSE
- Penn State as a team has set numerous offensive records this year bettering its previous top offensive year of 2016-17 in the process. The Nittany Lions have set new records for goals (175), assists (297) and points (472) leading the nation in all three categories as well as goals per game (4.61) and shots per game (40.8).
- Penn State is also just 2 power-play goals shy of tying its single-season record for man-advantage tallies at 35 while this weekend’s game marks the 39th game of the season, tying the record for most games played set during the 2016-17 season.
ANYTHING YOU CAN DO, I CAN DO BETTER
- For the better part of the entire year Folkes and Limoges have flanked Evan Barratt on the same line and in 31 games together they average 3.97 points per game, the best mark in the NCAA, with 53 goals and 70 assists for 123 points.
- Each player on the BFL line has also eclipsed the 40-point threshold this season marking the first time in program history the Nittany Lions have had multiple 40-point scorers in the same season. Penn State had just three 40-point scorers in six seasons before doubling that total with three alone so far this season.
- Penn State is one of just four teams nationally to have multiple 40-point scorers joining UMass, Bowling Green and Minnesota. The Nittany Lions lead the nation with five players at 30 or more points and 11 players with 20 or more points this season.