UNIVERSITY PARK — The Penn State men's ice hockey team has made program history.
The Nittany Lions (16-2-1 overall, 5-1-0 Big Ten) earned the program's first-ever No. 1 national ranking Monday afternoon after receiving a program-high 30 first-place votes in the latest U.S. College Hockey Online (uscho.com) poll. Ice hockey is in just its fifth year as an NCAA Division I varsity sport at Penn State.
The Lions jumped from No. 4 last week to the top spot on Monday after sweeping Michigan State, 5-2 and 5-3, over the weekend at Pegula Ice Arena. PSU received 964 points, which was 81 more points than they had last week and 23 points clear of second-place Denver (941).
Penn State's 30 first-place votes were the most among the five teams who earned first-place votes on this week's ballot. Denver dropped from the top spot to No. 2 and received 16 first-place votes while Boston University and Minnesota-Duluth each received one and landed at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. UMass-Lowell rounds out the top-5 while receiving a pair of first-place nods.
The Lions are one of three Big Ten teams to remain in the polls as Minnesota jumps to No. 7 and Ohio State slides a bit to No. 11 while Wisconsin continues to receive votes. The Lions are tied for first place in the Big Ten with Minnesota.
Penn State also improved on their No. 4 ranking in last week's USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll by jumping to No. 2 with 470 points just 10 points back of first-place Denver. The Lions doubled their first-place votes to another program-high of 16 after receiving eight last week.
The Lions also regained the top spot in the the PairWise rankings earlier this weekend. The PairWise serves as the best indicator of which 16 teams will make the NCAA Tournament.
PSU will put their new ranking on the line when the 11th-ranked Buckeyes visit Pegula Ice Arena to close out the season series with a pair of games at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday evening.