Hockey Game Grades: Minnesota
The Massacre at Mariucci? Well it sure seemed like it if you were on the Nittany Lions’ side of things this weekend. Penn State dropped their third and fourth straight games, falling twice to the Minnesota Golden Gophers. As the scores suggested, this series got away from the Nittany Lions in a hurry. Here are the game grades for this series.
There were times Penn State looked like themselves, but most of the time they were a stagnant bunch, struggling to push the pace and compensate for a lack of experience on the larger ice surface. In game one, Penn State looked lost, only compiling 29 shots and struggling to ever get into a grove offensively. Never mind stringing consecutive minutes together with solid play, the Nittany Lions could barely string together consecutive shifts. Night two was better, but the effort bore a similar fruitless result. Three goals over two games is not going to cut it in the Big Ten, or any conference for that matter. It is officially safe to call this an offensive slump.
Bad. Really Bad. Frantic and all over the place. Penn State preached a focus on defense entering the weekend series against Minnesota, then promptly gave up 10 goals in those two games. To make matters worse, its not as if the Golden Gophers significantly outplayed and out skilled the Nittany Lions. The defensive structure just seemed to fall apart in crucial moments. In the last four games, Penn State has given up 21 goals. No matter how good the offense is, the defense needs to get better.
It’s always tough to decipher goalie play when the defense wasn’t strong. However, you will have nights where the team isn’t playing well and you need a goaltender to win a game. This didn’t happen on Friday or Saturday as Penn State sent out Chris Funkey and Peyton Jones on those respective nights. Funkey was shaky at first, then responded with solid play, but by that point it was too late. Jones was the opposite, strong start and poor finish. All in all, it was mediocre for the Nittany Lions.
Special Teams: D
Penn State missed, Minnesota didn’t. 0-4 on the power play vs. 2-3 was all the difference the Gophers needed in the special teams battle. Penn State wasn’t bad on the power play, but just didn’t find the back of the net. On the other hand, Minnesota was dominant on their man-advantage, using their knowledge of a larger ice surface to their advantage. This facet of the game was as one-sided as the stats suggested.
Hot seat? No, I kid. But in all seriousness there is something perplexing and mildly concerning about the way Guy Gadowsky’s teams seem to finish the season as opposed to the way they start it. Penn State, since the program made the jump from just being a D1 program to being a competitive one in 2014-15, has come out of the gates roaring, then limped its way to the finish line. This pattern seems to have reared its ugly head for a third year in a row. In 2014-15, after the winter school break, Penn State went 9-10-2. The next season, 9-10-1. This year, since that same break, Penn State is 3-5-1. The Big Ten is a very good conference, but at some point that can’t be the only explanation for Penn State’s woes.
Jack Milewski is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Sophomore / Broadcast Journalism
Jack Milewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. He is a member of com radio’s sports team and helps to produce broadcasts as well as announcing multiple sporting events. He also produces written content and podcasts for the website. To go along with his involvement in com radio, Jack is also an intern at gopsusports.com. He covers the women’s hockey team and produces written content for the website. Jack is also the voice of Penn State Women’s Volleyball and travels with the team to cover all of their matches. Jack hopes to become a play-by-play man for a big market hockey team in the future.