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Penn State Clinches First NCAA Tournament Bid

Penn State players celebrate a goal. Matt Christians

With their double overtime victory over Minnesota in tonight’s Big Ten semifinal, Penn State has officially clinched a spot in this year’s NCAA tournament field, the first tournament appearance in program history.

It’s a remarkable ascendance for a program in just its’ fifth year as a varsity program. Under the leadership of head coach Guy Gadowsky, the Nittany Lions continue to be the blueprint for a school starting a D-1 hockey program.

The first NCAA bid seemed all but assured midway through the season when Penn State jumped out to a 13-1-1 record and the top spot in college hockey’s Pairwise Rankings. But a rough second half including going 5-9-0 in their final 14 regular season games put the Nittany Lions back on the NCAA bubble. They took control of their own destiny in Detroit, however, defeating Michigan less than a week after being swept by the Wolverines and finally got over the hump against Minnesota in the semifinals.

They’ll meet Wisconsin in tomorrow’s Big Ten championship game, but regardless of the result, Selection Sunday will be an historic day for the Nittany Lion program.