Series Grades: Notre Dame
The Nittany Lions struggled mightily in South Bend this weekend, losing back-to-back games at the hands of Notre Dame. Here is how each unit performed:
Penn State played solid offensively on Friday night and was tied at three with Notre Dame at the beginning of the third period. However, the Nittany Lions were unable to string a few passes together and finish at the net to get a win. Blake Gober, Andrew Sturtz, and Nikita Pavlychev all found the back of the net, but Penn State showed again that they are much more limited offensively without their star sophomore Denis Smirnov.
Saturday was just abysmal, as the Nittany Lions were shut out 1-0, again without Smirnov. He has proved to be extremely valuable for the Nittany Lions the last couple of weeks after they struggled against a mediocre Mercyhurst team last weekend and were swept this weekend against a much better Notre Dame team. Penn State will need to find ways to turn in better offensive performances without Smirnov if he is to miss any more games.
The defense played solid for two periods on Friday night against a very good Notre Dame attack. But then they collapsed in the third period, giving up two quick goals that led to a loss. On Saturday night they basically shut down the Notre Dame offense, but unfortunately Penn State’s offense did not come to play on Saturday, leading to another loss. What was more concerning about this unit though, was that all of Penn State’s defensemen combined for just one point in two games this weekend. Penn State’s defensemen played a huge role in their offensive success last season, but that was nonexistent this weekend. Derian Hamilton recorded an assist, but other guys like Trevor Hamilton, Cole Hults, and Kris Myllari were stagnant. For Penn State to get back on track, it simpley needs more out of the defense.
Peyton Jones has struggled mightily so far this year and has really yet to take the next step in his sophomore season. Friday night was not one of his best games, as Notre Dame scored five times on just 19 shot attempts. On the other side, Penn State managed to score just three times on Notre Dame goaltender Cale Morris on 43 shot attempts. Jones was excellent on Saturday night, but he unfortunately was not helped out by his offense. On Saturday he stopped 26 shots and allowed just one goal, but again, the consistency just has not been there. Jones has looked great at times, but other times he looks like he is just not ready for the spotlight. This will have to change for Penn State to start being more competitive this season.
Guy Gadowsky’s team is lacking consistency right now. More importantly, it seems as though they are really missing the senior leadership from last year’s team, despite returning a large majority of their production from last season. Their just seems to be a lack of leadership right now from both the more experienced players and the coaching staff. Rarely this season has Penn State brought their best game on both ends of the ice. There were big expectations for this team to build on last year’s success, but so far they have regressed in a big way. Gadowsky and his staff need to find some ways to get the Nittany Lions to start playing with more energy and consistency before this season turns into a major disappointment.
Will Desautelle is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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Junior / Broadcast Journalism and Political Science