Freshman Evaluation: Week 15
The press for the post season is in full swing and the Nittany Lions did their part this weekend in East Lansing against the Michigan State Spartans. With a nice series sweep, Penn State pulls closer to the coveted first two spots in the Big Ten that secure a first round bye in the conference tournament.
Although the results haven’t always been there the past two weeks, the efforts of the Penn State freshmen have been noticeable as they too feel the pressure just like everyone else on this young squad.
Nate Sucese has come out of the woodwork these past few weeks, contributing in a big way to this Penn State attack. He had a stellar performance this series, particularly on Saturday when he netted two goals in the first frame. He did also record one assist, though on an empty net goal by David Goodwin.
Sucese’s performance in the past several series mirrors that of Denis Smirnov during non-conference play earlier this season. He has not been a guy under the spyglass of the college hockey world and has been able to develop without all the pressure. That development has now come to fruition and he is playing excellently down the stretch. One can only hope that the same breakdown doesn’t happen to Sucese during the tournament like it did to Smirnov in January and early February.
When one thinks about Penn State’s offensive defensemen, they think of Kevin Kerr, Trevor Hamilton, and Vince Pedrie. However, it was Kris Myllari that provided the offensive spark from the blue line against the Spartans. The freshman had an assist on Friday and Saturday night that has become a little more commonplace than usual.
Myllari’s play of late has strayed from his usual stay at home, grinder mentality. That aspect of his game has not suffered as he still had three blocked shots over the weekend. Fortunately, his pairing with Trevor Hamilton has helped in unforeseen ways through his increase in output with that shot from the blue line. It would be huge to have a guy who can switch his type of play so seamlessly like Myllari has, but with consistency.
It seems the freshmen core is coming back to where it was at the beginning of the year and it is happening at the right time. The series this weekend comes against the team that is within arm’s length of Penn State in the standings: Wisconsin. Not only is this series huge in terms of the standings, but also for the seniors.
David Goodwin, Dylan Richard, Zach Saar, David Thompson, and Ricky Derosa will all be playing in their final series in front of the Penn State faithful, the culmination coming on Recognition Night this Saturday. It is the freshmen’s duty to send their leaders off on a high note. The seniors are the ones who have developed them into great hockey players, both on and off the ice. They now pass on to them the mentality of chemistry and family that must be carried on to future freshmen. The seniors deserve a series sweep and a great last series in the house that Pegula built.
Travis Sutton is a freshman majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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