Hockey Game Grades: Penn State vs. Michigan State

Story posted February 14, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Jack Milewski

The Penn State Nittany Lions swept the Michigan State Spartans to claim five of a possible six points in the series at Munn Ice Arena. Penn State won the second game in a shootout, relinquishing their right to a third point and settling for a two point victory. Game one was one sided as the Nittany Lions demolished Michigan State 6-1, peppering Jake Hildebrand with shots all night. Here are this weekend’s additions of game grades:

Offense: A

Yes, Penn State struggled to score in the second game, but you can’t fault the Nittany Lions too much, especially after they compiled six goals in game one and were all over the Spartans from start to finish. For my money, Jake Hildebrand is still one of the better goalies in the Big Ten. He is just stuck behind a very bad team. Game two showed more of what Hildebrand does well rather than a lack of offense from the Nittany Lions. On the weekend, Penn State had seven different goal scorers, as they scored eight goals. This is an offense that is explosive and deep with some of their role players are rounding into form on the offensive side. Penn State also totaled 88 shots in the two games, sticking with their identity and making Hildebrand work for every save. Overall, a very good showing for the Blue and White.

Defense: A-

For fear of feeling like the easy teacher giving out all A’s, I’ll throw in an A- here for the Nittany Lion’s defense. They were good, very good. Giving up three goals in two games is a fine showing. However, the one knock on the Nittany Lions this weekend is that this was an offensively challenged Michigan State team, so the effort probably could have been better. Also, giving up 36 shots on net in game two isn’t the best way to follow up a solid effort in game one. Again, overall it was a well-played series for Penn State and they were defensively sound for the majority of the 125 minutes over the weekend.

Goaltending: A

Yes, Penn State deservedly receives an A for their goaltending performance over the weekend. Once again, Matt Skoff on Friday and Eamon McAdam on Saturday worked for Penn State. Skoff stopped 28 of 29 shots on Friday and arguably played one of his better games all season. Then, McAdam followed that up with a 34 save performance and a perfect save percentage in the skills competition after the hockey game to wrap up a dominant performance between the pipes on the weekend of Penn State. The Nittany Lions gave up just two even strength goals on the weekend, one in each game. In short, those boys with the extra pads were extra good in this series.

Special Teams: A

The reason Penn State won the second game in this series was largely because of the penalty kill. The Nittany Lions killed off five of six Michigan State power plays and were able to overcome their undisciplined play by stifling the Spartan power play. Michigan State operated at just 10 percent on the power play, while Penn State went 2-7 and was 28 percent with the man advantage. Again, it was a solid effort all around for Penn State and the real reason why they get such a high grade is that they essentially won the game for themselves on special teams in game two.

Coaching: B+

There were no real questionable decisions made by Gadowsky this weekend, it just seemed that Penn State was a little tired in game two with the strategy of 11 forwards. While it gives Penn State more skill on the ice at all times, in a physical two game series, it can take its toll. That being said, the two goalie tandem worked out well for Penn State and both McAdam and Skoff shined. It will be interesting to see if Penn State chooses a starter and who that may be is still a mystery as you could make a strong argument for both goaltenders.

Crowd: A++

Bonus grade for the Roar Zone, making the eight hour bus ride to East Lansing for game two. The crowd was said to feel pro-Penn State at times and knowing the Roar Zone, they were rocking all game. It may be biased, but you don’t see that commitment from any other student sections around the country. Well done.

Jack Milewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email jbm250@psu.edu