MHKY: Penn State Responds with a Dominant Win on Senior Night
Guy Gadowsky’s team and the Penn State fans got a taste of both sides of the spectrum this weekend. In the final series this season at Pegula, Wisconsin defeated Penn State 7-4 on a night where turnovers and poor defense plagued the Nittany Lions.
Then came Saturday, and the Nittany Lions turned in arguably their best performance of the season on senior night with an authoritative 6-0 victory over the Badgers.
Freshman goaltender Peyton Jones particularly faced one of the biggest challenges of his young career this weekend. Since the end of Christmas break, Jones has battled inconsistency, and Friday may have been his worst game of the season. In the loss, Jones allowed six goals and saved only 80.6% of Wisconsin’s shot attempts.
Despite the poor outing, Gadowsky and Lions never lost faith in their young goaltender and there were no doubts about who would be getting the start on Saturday. With possible NCAA Tournament implications on the line, Jones needed to be on his game, and he was flawless, saving all 36 of the Badgers shots on goal.
Andrew Sturtz had a huge game on Friday night for Penn State, scoring two goals and two assists. Usually Sturtz’s performance is infectious, and it is rare for the Lions to lose a game when he plays that well. However, the Penn State back line simply had no answer for the Badgers all night. Nate Sucese also extended his point streak to eight games with a goal on Friday night and two assists on Saturday.
Denis Smirnov also broke the Penn State single-season record for total points with his first assist of the game and then added two more before the final horn.
Perhaps the most transcendent headline of the night was the impact of the five seniors in their final game at Pegula. David Thompson, Zach Saar, Dylan Richard, Ricky DeRosa, and David Goodwin closed out their remarkable careers in dramatic fashion on Saturday night.
With just 44 seconds to go in the final period, Wisconsin’s fifth penalty of the game set up a five-on-three power play for the short remainder of the game. Gadowsky sent all five seniors onto the ice for one final chance to celebrate together. With nine seconds left, the Pegula Ice Arena erupted as Zach Saar found the back of the net from the right wing off of a David Thompson assist.
How fitting for these five young men to finish out their time at Pegula in that fashion. Beyond that final sequence, the seniors had a monumental effect on the game, combining for seven total points. Each senior also scored at least one point this weekend.
The captain, David Goodwin, particularly went out with a bang, scoring two goals and adding two assists in his final home game. Goodwin’s influence on the Penn State hockey team cannot be understated. He has set a new program standard with his leadership on and off the ice. Never has there been a player under Gadowsky who is more consistently committed to academics, his sport, and his community.
Goodwin is the all-time leading point scorer at Penn State and is two goals away from tying the scoring record. However, he knows that with so much young talent behind him, that any record he achieves will be short-lived. Regardless, he and rest of the seniors’ role in transforming this program into a national power should not be downplayed.
With one weekend in the regular season left to go, Penn State will travel to Ann Arbor for a series against Michigan before the Big Ten tournament. Minnesota and Wisconsin remain tied for the lead in the Big Ten, with Penn State five points behind them. The Lions are projected to qualify for the NCAA Tournament as of now, but a strong showing against the Wolverines can punch their ticket.
Will Desautelle is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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