Penn State hockey's up and down opening month took another blow as coach Guy Gadowsky announced that star forward Denis Smirnov will miss "several weeks" for medical reasons.
Gadowsky wouldn't divulge the nature of the issue, he did say that the sophomore forward is dealing with an illness that will sideline him for the foreseeable future.
The news will do little for a Penn State team that has struggled to maintain its identity and build on the successes of 2016. The Nittany Lions are currently 5-5 heading into a road meeting with Big Ten newcomer Notre Dame. Penn State most recently split back-to-back series against Mercyhurst and Michigan, the Nittany Lions giving up 18 goals over the four game span.
So far this season Smirnov has scored three game winning goals and had his six-game point streak snapped at 11 points after missing this past weekend's series.
All told though Smirnov's departure is just one of many issues the Nittany Lions will have to tackle, and tackle soon if Penn State wants to return to the NCAA Tournament this year.
“I would love that if we felt that we had our own house in order and could spend time focusing time on our opponent,” Gadowsky said Monday. “There are enough really well-defined issues that we have that we have to — the No. 1 priority is to take care of that.”