Series Grades: Minnesota
No. 8 Penn State swept the Minnesota Golden Gophers over the weekend in the first road series of the season for the Nittany Lions to improve their record to 9-2. In the first game on Friday, Penn State dominated on all sides of the puck in an easy 8-2 victory. On Saturday, the Gophers led 2-0 after one period, but the Nittany Lions scored three in both the second and third periods to give them the eventual 6-3 win.
As Penn State gets ready to face Ohio State next weekend, let’s give out grades to each of the Penn State units against Minnesota:
The offense has had some trap games this season in which it couldn’t seem to get anything going, including two shutout losses. But the scorers weren’t quiet for this series. Junior Alex Limoges hasn’t lived up to the Hobey Baker hype that he carried before the season began, but Penn State’s leading scorer from a year ago scored two goals on Friday, his fourth and fifth of the season, for his first game with multiple goals this year.
Another player who has unexpectedly struggled this season is senior Liam Folkes, but he also appears to have broken out of his slump, scoring one in each game against Minnesota. The Nittany Lions have already proven that they have depth on the offensive side, and if Limoges and Folkes can keep playing like the way they did a season ago, this team could easily score at least six goals a game.
The defense was pretty good on Friday, allowing just 27 shots. But it did not look great on Saturday, allowing the sub-.500 Gophers jump to a 3-1 lead early.
The truth of the matter is that it really doesn’t matter what the defense does. If the offense does its job, then the defense just has to avoid making any critical mistakes, and this team should be OK. This formula worked in this series, and it also worked earlier in the year in the sweep against Wisconsin.
The other good sign is the fact that the defensemen always seem to lend a hand in the scoring department. Junior Clayton Phillips put one in the net to represent the defense in the scoring column this weekend.
Senior goaltender Peyton Jones was impressive as always, recording 60 saves total in the series. After allowing three to Minnesota on Saturday, he stopped the Gophers’ momentum and gave Penn State the confidence to make a comeback. Jones posted a .924 save percentage in the series.
A big point of emphasis all season long by head coach Guy Gadowsky has been limiting penalties, and, when the Nittany Lions are in the penalty kill, limiting opposing goals. The team finally answered his call on Friday, committing just one penalty. Gadowsky wasn’t happy with six penalties on Saturday, but he was happy that his team only gave up one power-play goal.
Jack McCune is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.