Hockey Game Grades: Penn State vs. Michigan State
Entering the weekend, the Penn State Nittany Lions were sitting pretty as the 19th ranked team in the country. Offensive production was the name of the game for the Lions, defeating the Michigan State Spartans 4-2 on Friday night and 6-1 on Saturday afternoon. With two conference wins under their belt, Guy Gadowsky and his squad move to 10-2-3 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten.
Once again, the Nittany Lion freshmen would prove to be a vital part of the system, scoring four goals this weekend. Right out of the gate, the Lions established a heavy and physical forecheck that allowed them to force the Spartans to make numerous turnovers in their own zone. Andrew Sturtz was impressive as ever on Friday night, tallying two goals and adding an assist. On Saturday, Eric Scheid picked up where Sturtz left off, netting two extremely quick goals to open game two of the weekend. From there, the Lions never looked back and continued to pound shots on goal and find ways to get the job done.
Despite their victories, the Nittany Lions defensive play wasn’t incredibly impressive. Passing lanes were shut down, but the Spartans still found ways to pepper Matthew Skoff and Eamon McAdam with shots. All three Spartan goals were generated off turnovers by the Penn State defense, but luckily, their offense was able to pick up for any slack on the back end. Ultimately, defense isn’t a huge issue when your team is scoring 10 goals in a weekend.
Aside from the three goals allowed, Skoff and McAdam were lights out in their performances. Skoff played a dynamic game between the pipes, stopping 31 shots and allowing just two goals that weren’t his fault to begin with. On the other hand, McAdam displayed his sense of poise and control as he denied 28 Spartan shots and conceded only one goal. All in all, the goaltending was incredibly sound and allowed the Lions to play with confidence and pull out to large leads all weekend.
POWER PLAY: C
Despite quick and efficient passing, Penn State was only able to generate two goals on their 10 power play chances throughout the weekend. David Goodwin was able to jam one home on a wild scramble in the crease Friday night and Vince Pedrie netted the puck on a missile of a one-timer on Saturday. Other than those scoring plays, Michigan State did a great job of blocking shooting lanes from the point and taking away the front of the net. Heading into next weekend’s matchup against Princeton, Gadowsky will be sure to run power play time in practice this week.
PENALTY KILL: B+
It was evident that these two teams were battling each other harder as the weekend progressed. Penn State took a total of seven penalties over the course of the weekend, but were able to save themselves by efficient positioning on the penalty kill. The Spartans had some difficulty moving the puck to the inside and recognizing shooting lanes. In fact, they were only capable of tallying one power play goal all weekend despite numerous opportunities. Gadowsky has stressed the importance of a disciplined team and an effective penalty kill. This weekend, he got the full package.
Ryan Ruff is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.