Hockey Game Grades: Penn State vs. Princeton
The Penn State Nittany Lions continued to roll as they dispatched Princeton 6-3 at Pegula Ice Arena on Friday. Tommy Olczyk recorded the team’s first hat trick of the season, scoring three goals three different ways. Olczyk tallied one on the power play, notched an even strength goal and iced the game with an empty netter late in the third. With the win, the Nittany Lions improved to 11-2-3 and moved their program best-unbeaten streak to nine games. With finals week approaching, it’s only fitting that some grades should be dished out.
It’s been very hard to not give the Nittany Lions’ offense an A for almost every game this season. This unit is fast, creative, smart, and they pepper the goalie with shots. They come in waves and very rarely do you see a lapse in their aggressive offensive attack. The game against Princeton was no different. Penn State created many opportunities and were able to tally six goals. It probably could have been more, but you can’t penalize a team for putting up a touchdown minus the extra point. Olczyk’s hat trick was the highlight of the night for Penn State, but as a whole, the entire Nittany Lion’s offense was once again explosive.
The blue line could have definitely limited Princeton to less than three goals. Though they weren’t bad at all, there was one egregious mistake by the unit when they failed to clear the crease after a couple of solid saves by Matt Skoff. Eric Audio and Vince Pedrie both tallied assists as the defense was once again involved in the offense for Penn State. Take away that four minute stretch in the third period and this unit would have received an A. Instead, they barely weathered the storm but were still able to do enough to keep Princeton off balance. Allowing 25 shots on goal is also a very solid number if you’re a defense.
While Skoff did get the win, he was not that impressive. Sure he stopped 22 shots. Sure he got the win. But as a starting goaltender, Skoff doesn’t inspire as much confidence as a starter should. He looked shaky on a couple of stops and though he isn’t fully to blame for the three goals in three minutes, he let in a few stoppable pucks during that stretch. The team seems better when McAdam is between the pipes, but Guy Gadowsky seems to be going with the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality. You can’t argue with a win and you certainly can’t argue with a 4-1-3 record either.
It’s always tough to analyze coaching for a single hockey game, at least more so than other sports. But once again, Gadowsky does a great job with the Nittany Lions. The move to start Skoff, though he may not be the best goalie on Penn State’s team, was a smart one to get him some more work before the break against an opponent that the Nittany Lions should have beaten. The rotating goalie act hasn’t failed yet, but it will be interesting to see if and when Gadowsky chooses a single starter. Also, the fact that Gadowsky was able to beat the school he used to coach for must have been a good feeling for both him and the team. Again, you can’t argue with 11-2-3.
Special Teams: A
Boy are these teams special. The Nittany Lion’s, once again outscored their opponent in the special team category. The Nittany Lions scored two more power play goals and with those two, they are firmly in control with the most power play goals in the nation for any team. David Glen also potted a shorthanded goal. The Nittany Lions are second in the nation in that category. Long story short, or maybe short story short, this team is really good with a man advantage and also really good with a man disadvantage.
Jack Milewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.