Penn State men’s hockey game grades vs Minnesota

Story posted March 14, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Maclain Young

Penn State’s strong run of play was halted Saturday night at Minnesota when the Golden Gophers defeated the Nittany Lions 3-2 in the semi-finals of the Big Ten tournament.

The blue and white battled back from a two-goal deficit with goals from Tyler Pacquette and the red hot freshman Dylan Lugris before Sammy Walker scored the game-winning goal with less than three minutes to play for Minnesota.

The loss most likely ended Penn State’s season as a whole, but here’s a look at how each group performed in the one-game playoff.

Offense: B

While the Nittany Lion offense managed only two goals against Minnesota, those tallies came against one of the hottest goaltenders in the country in Justen Close.

Penn State also managed to score one of their goals on their lone power play. This came after failing to score in eight powerplay attempts in the three-game set with Ohio State.

Lugris was able to tally his third goal in as many games which is a great sign for Penn State’s forward group going forward into next season.

While the Nittany Lions did not blow the doors off the Golden Gophers with buckets of goals, their offense stayed right with the No. 2 team in the country for most of the tilt.

Defense: B

An A+ effort from the Penn State defense all night long is knocked down to a B for one fatal moment.

With about three minutes to play in the third period, Danny Dzhaniyev led an odd-man rush for Penn State with three other Nittany Lions joining him.

A failed pass sent Minnesota the other way, and while disaster seemed to be averted for a moment, a failed clear attempt allowed Blake McLaughlin to walk in all alone and slide the puck over to Sammy Walker who tapped the game-winning goal into the back of the net.

Other than this moment which ended up costing Penn State the game, the Nittany Lion defense was phenomenal.
They were able to have tight-checking on Minnesota’s Olympic-sized rink and limit the Golden Gophers from having a ton of grade-A chances.

Goaltending: B-

Liam Souliere got the start again for the Nittany Lions and it was a decent showing for the sophomore.

Souliere did not look rattled or overwhelmed playing on the road against a top-two team in the country but did not do anything to steal the game for Penn State.

Souliere’s rebound control, while not perfect, looked better than it has for most of this season, especially compared to the regular-season finale against Michigan State.

Coaching: A-

With a roster far less talented than Minnesota’s, Guy Gadowsky and staff put a scare into the Golden Gophers.

The coaches were able to keep the squad calm and under control despite going down 2-0 in a hostile environment.

The power play was finally able to execute and for a lot of the night, the Nittany Lions were able to play their game.

The team made a costly mistake late, but that will happen with young teams and the bottom line is that Penn State’s coaching staff had their team ready to compete hard on the road against one of the best teams in the country.

While the loss ultimately eliminated Penn State from the Big Ten tournament and most likely ended a roller coaster of a season, the Nittany Lions went out on a relatively high note.

Penn State upset Ohio State in a three-game playoff and took the No. 2 team in the country down to the wire on the road.

Regardless, this Penn State team has a lot to build on going into next season with their effort in this game and the Big Ten tournament as a whole.

Maclain Young is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email