Preview: Men’s hockey looks to tame no. 12 Nittany Lions

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Preview: Men’s hockey looks to tame no. 12 Nittany Lions

PITTSBURGH -- The men's hockey team stands for the national anthem against Bowling Green on 10/12/18 (David Auth/RMU Sentry Media).

PITTSBURGH -- The men's hockey team stands for the national anthem against Bowling Green on 10/12/18 (David Auth/RMU Sentry Media).

PITTSBURGH -- The men's hockey team stands for the national anthem against Bowling Green on 10/12/18 (David Auth/RMU Sentry Media).

PITTSBURGH -- The men's hockey team stands for the national anthem against Bowling Green on 10/12/18 (David Auth/RMU Sentry Media).

Jonathan Hanna, Sports Assistant Editor

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.– After splitting their series with the Army West Point Black Knights (3-1, 1-1 AHC), the Robert Morris men’s hockey team (3-3, 3-1 AHC) travels to Hockey Valley to take on the no. 12 Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1). In last year’s home-and-home, the Colonials lost the series a combined 18-8. Also, Robert Morris hasn’t beaten Penn State since December 28, 2015.

Recapping RMU

Last week’s series against Army was really a tale of two games for the Colonials. In the first game, Army won 4-1, with the lone goal scored by Jacob Coleman late in the period. The Colonials took nine penalties in the game and were outshot 41-18. In the second game, Justin Kapelmaster earned his second shutout in a Colonials uniform. Freshmen Darcy Walsh and Cameron Hebert earned their first career goals for Robert Morris, and junior defenseman Nick Jenny also added a goal as the Colonials beat the Black Knights 3-0.

Previewing Penn State

Similar to Robert Morris, Penn State’s series against the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks (3-3, 2-0 WCHA) was a tale of two games for the Nittany Lions. In game one of the series, the Lions routed the Nanooks 7-0. Nikita Pavlychev, Tyler Gratton, Paul DeNaples, Brandon Biro, Aarne Talvitie, Denis Smirnov and Liam Folkes scored for Penn State; and senior goaltender Peyton Jones made 29 saves for a program-record fourth career shutout.

In game two of the weekend, it was all UAF. The Nanooks skated over Penn State, winning 4-0. Penn State’s backup goaltender, Oskar Autio made 19 saves in the loss.

Players to Watch

Justin Kapelmaster (RMU, G)

So far this season, the Ferris State transfer has been impressive for Robert Morris. He has two shutouts on the year; for reference, Kapelmaster had four in three years at Ferris State. Also this year, Kapelmaster is among the best goalies in the nation; his 1.380 goals against average is fifth in the nation, while his .964 save percentage is second, only trailing his former Ferris State teammate Roni Salmenkangas.

Justin Addamo (RMU, F)

The only Colonial above five points this year, the French sophomore has grown his game this season. Last year, six games in, Addamo only had three points (1g, 2a), on his way to 14 (7g, 7a) on the season. Already this year, Addamo has six points (1g, 5a), almost half his total from the entirety of last year. Addamo’s six points is currently tied for 23rd in NCAA scoring.

Nathan Sucese (PSU, F)

Sucese has certainly found success on the year, tallying 10 points (2g, 8a) in only four games for the Nittany Lions. The senior from Fairport, New York, had three points; all assists, in the series against UAF, but against Robert Morris’ co-Atlantic Hockey member Sacred Heart (0-3-1, 0-1), Sucese scored seven points (2g, 5a). His 10 points are tied for the NCAA lead with Johnnie Walker of Arizona State (3-3).

Peyton Jones (PSU, G)

Jones, a four-year starter for the Nittany Lions has, although it’s early, played the best of his career so far. Through three games, Jones has a .939 save percentage and a 2.00 goals against average; before this season, his previous best was a 2.60 GAA in 2016-17 and a .905 save percentage in 2017-18. His .939 save percentage is 11th in the NCAA and his 2.00 GAA is tied for 24th in the nation.

Prediction

Despite a shiny new goaltender in Justin Kapelmaster, the Nittany Lions’ offensive firepower far outnumbers that of the Colonials. I say that the Colonials put up a good fight, but ultimately drop their game to no. 12 Penn State by a score of 5-2.

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