Series Grades: Michigan
The No. 15 ranked Nittany Lions split at home against their conference rivals the Michigan Wolverines. Here are the series grade for Penn State.
Peyton Jones’ opening game against the Wolverines was up and down as he let in two quick goals in the first period, but made key saves throughout the second and third periods. His shakiness at the start of the game is a bit of a concern, but he bounced back in order to keep the Nittany Lions in the game.
The second game was worse from Jones as he allowed five goals on only 25 shots. The Michigan offense was not peppering the goal with shots, which makes the amount of goals scored very concerning. The shots were not that difficult to stop, so he should have stopped more shots than he did. Jones performance on Saturday was poor enough that Chris Funkey had to replace him in the third period. He didn’t allow a goal during his short time on the ice.
His grade could have been higher, but the nine goals allowed makes it hard for it to be raised higher than a B-. The defenders in front of him have not done a lot to help him, so the number of goals that he allowed is not entirely on him.
The loss of defenseman Kevin Kerr was felt in the Michigan series as the Wolverines had too many opportunities in front of the net. Trevor Hamilton was the best defenseman for the Nittany Lions on Friday, but it seemed like he was unable to communicate with the other defenders during his time on the ice. The Wolverines exposed the Nittany Lions on the defensive end as they were constantly skating by the Nittany Lions for easier opportunities in front of the net.
Cole Hults played well on Saturday night, but he also got boarded, which hurt his play throughout the night. Erik Autio joined Hults as the only players on the Penn State with a positive plus/minus with a +1 on Saturday as Hamilton struggled to keep up with the Wolverines offense.
The grade may seem harsh, but the fact that nine goals were scored on the weekend makes the grade seem better than it actually is. The shot blocking of the Nittany Lions helps them keep their grade where it is.
The Nittany Lions had an up and down offensive series as they were able to come from behind on Friday, but fail to take advantage of opportunities on Saturday. Denis Smirnov seemed to be out of the game on Saturday as his five game point spread snapped.
The loss of Andrew Sturtz on Saturday was felt as Penn State was unable to score when the puck was right in front of the net. Nikita Pavlychev played well on Saturday, scoring his second goal of the season. His physicality at the point of attack makes it hard to lower the grade for the offense.
Guy Gadowsky coached a great game on Friday as he willed his team to a victory in overtime on Friday night and coached his team well on Saturday. He put his players in opportunities to score goals, but they could not take advantage of that.
His decision to keep Jones in for as long as he did on Saturday is questionable, but the overall performance of the team was not good. Gadowsky was unable to get the Nittany Lions going on Saturday, making his grade no higher than a B.
Joseph Esquivel-Murphy is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.