Series Grades: Robert Morris

Story posted October 26, 2019 in Sports, CommRadio by Christopher Hess

No. 12 Penn State was able to rebound after last week’s split against Alaska Fairbanks by defeating Robert Morris 2-1. The game itself had turned into a defensive slugfest that the Nittany Lions aren’t typically accustomed to, but they held off an extremely scrappy Colonials team. Let’s hand out grades for Friday’s victory over Robert Morris to each of Penn State’s units:

Offense: C+

With Robert Morris running a version of the trap defense that is typically hard to crack, it was extremely difficult for the Nittany Lions to get any sort of offensive production. However, they were able to do just enough, as Connor MacEachern and Brandon Biro were able to rifle two pucks past Robert Morris goalie Justin Kapelmaster at the 2:13 mark of the second period and the 6:48 mark of the third period, respectively.

Penn State tallied 36 shots on goal but not many of them were high quality, and the passing game was lacking at certain points as well. Line changes were usually crisp, but there were also instances in which those changes were extremely slow and underwhelming.

This was a step in the right direction though, coming off of 4-0 loss to Alaska Fairbanks in which making simple tape-to-tape passes were tough to come by. But as a whole, this was clearly not Penn State’s best offensive performance in the slightest.

Defense: A-

For a program that has prided itself on getting pucks to the net and scoring goals in the blink of an eye, the defense was the thing that kept Penn State afloat during this back-and-forth affair. Players like Clayton Phillips, Paul DeNaples, Kris Myllari and Alex Stevens were able to anchor the back end and keep the Colonials attack in check.

Other than the lone goal scored by RMU at the 4:20 mark of the second period courtesy of Grant Hebert, in which bodies were flying all over the ice, Peyton Jones had himself a stellar night between the pipes. Jones was able to stop 21 of 22 shots for a save percentage of .955.

The Nittany Lions were also able to kill a 5-on-3 in the third period in addition to the strong defensive showing. Freshman Connor McMenamin blocked a shot in the latter half of that 5-on-3 and virtually melted away the remaining time on the penalty kill to bring the Nittany Lions back to full strength.

Coaching: B+

Although it wasn’t pretty, coach Guy Gadowsky and his staff won themselves a chess match with a team that was projected to finish in the bottom half of Atlantic Hockey. Sometimes the ugly wins are the ones that can build character and experience before the conference games start.

Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley had a strong plan in place to thwart Penn State’s offensive attack. With that being said, Gadowsky’s staff was able to come through in the clutch and get their players to rise up in a number of adverse situations.

Penn State is a team that typically lights up the scoreboard night in and night out. This game was a perfect example of a coaching staff making changes on the fly when the opponent comes out with a strong strategy to counter the usual style of play.

The Nittany Lions and Colonials will meet once again in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, at PPG Paints Arena.

 

 

Christopher Hess is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email christopherhess22@gmail.com.