MHKY: Midseason Grades
The Penn State men’s hockey team has turned heads throughout the college hockey world this season, posting one of the school’s best records halfway through the season. Penn State picked up an exciting comeback win against Big Ten foe Michigan State on Saturday, completing the series sweep.
The team’s success has seemingly flown under the radar for many outside of State College. However, the people who have been noticing Penn State’s success are the voters in the polls. Penn State climbed up to fourth in the USCHO poll, and first in the PairWise composite ranking. With the heat of the season about to kick into high gear, some high grades are more than worthy for the team thus far.
Coach Guy Gadowsky has posted one of his best signature seasons as Penn State’s hockey coach—and the season is not even over. Penn State’s school record for wins in a season is 21, and at the rate Gadowsky has the team going, he will be in prime position to shatter his own record. However, Gadowsky will have to keep the team in order and focused as they face the treacherous journey that will lead to the school’s first Frozen Four appearance.
The Nittany Lions’ offense has been the best offense in college hockey this season. That isn’t just bias, that is actually statistical fact. The Nittany Lions’ 4.58 goals allowed per game ranks number one out of all NCAA Division I teams so far this season. What makes the offense churn so well is amazing scoring from key components in all facets of the game.
Sophomore forward Chase Berger leads the team in power play goals and ranks 13th in the nation with six. Sophomore forward Andrew Sturtz leads the team in overall goals with 14, which also ranks 10th in the nation. David Goodwin, Denis Smirnov, and Trevor Hamilton also rank in the top 40 in assists throughout the country.
The offense has been a juggernaut at times with the team being able to score seamlessly and causing fits for opposing defenses. A prime example of the offensive prowess the team possesses was against Michigan State where the team scored two goals in nine seconds on the way to a win. If the offense continues on this pace, then a deep postseason run could be in the cards.
Many would assume that with a high potent offense, the defense would take a backseat, but that has been anything but the case. Goalie Peyton Jones has posted a .918 save percentage and ranks 10th in the nation in that category. Along with superb goaltending, the Nittany Lions rank fourth in the nation in total defense, posting a 2.00 goals per game average to this point of the season.
The Nittany Lions’ penalty kill has also been nothing to scoff at with an .890 kill percentage placing them fourth in the country as well. The defense has not looked perfect at times, but if this part of the team improves even more, the Nittany Lions will be a force to be reckoned with come April in Chicago.
Ron Redden is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.