Freshmen Evaluation: Week Two
As the Nittany Lions come off a 7-0 romping of the Mercyhurst Lakers, it’s time to take a look back at how the freshman class performed and how they have performed so far this year. The Nittany Lions came into last Friday's match 1-1 on the year after a split series with the St. Lawrence Saints.
The offense was firing on all cylinders as three freshman scored goals. Nate Sucese netted two goals on his way to a first star performance, while Nikita Pavylchev and Denis Smirnov added to the offensive flurry, each with a goal. Liam Folkes also made a great contribution as he added point to his stat line on an assist to Nate Sucese’s second goal.
Through three games, Denis Smirnov and Nate Sucese lead the freshmen with three points apiece while Pavylchev, Brando Biro and Liam Folkes are following close behind with two points. The special team’s performances were stellar as Sucese racked one of his goals on the power play, one of three goals scored by Penn State with an extra skater. Pavylchev also scored a short-handed goal for Penn State.
Penn State has opened up the season flying out of the gates on offense and the freshman appear to be keeping up right alongside the upperclassmen forwards, even excelling past them in some games thus far. The Nittany Lions offense continues to hum along this year with the freshman making some key contributions.
The defense logged another strong performance; shutting out the Lakers. Kris Myllari recorded one blocked shot, but the blocked shots were not needed much throughout the night as Peyton Jones handled the 20 shots on goal with ease. Myllari controlled his end of the ice very well, as the defensive unit aided in allowing only eight shots throughout the first two periods.
Last, but certainly not least, the performance Peyton Jones turned in was his most impressive so far this year. His game Friday helped him earn the third star performance for the game as well as for the Big Ten this week. Jones was calm, cool, and collected between the pipes as he blocked and batted aside 20 shots on the night. Even though Mercyhurst had nine power plays, Jones didn’t miss a beat keeping 11 of those 20 shots out of the net during the power play.
This was huge step in the right direction for Jones as he improved tremendously off of his 4:50, three goal outing against St. Lawrence. Although the Lakers were of less caliber than the ECAC opponent from opening weekend, it is shutout nonetheless that deserves the recognition it got. Jones is another big player that has to play as well as, and even better than, he did against the Lakers if the Nittany Lions are to take a game from Notre Dame this weekend.
The freshmen are progressing in the right direction and are making huge leaps and bounds towards a great season this year. Now that they have some experience, it is appropriate to hand out some grades. As hockey is a team sport, the grade will be a team grade. The Nittany Lions get a B+ this week due to an outstanding performance in all aspects of the game, but no higher because of the caliber of opponent. The freshman need to contribute heavily again this weekend in order to make this series count against the Fighting Irish.
Travis Sutton is a freshman majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email him at email@example.com.