Series Grades: Men’s Hockey vs. Wisconsin
Penn State earned a series split against the Wisconsin Badgers this weekend in Madison. Penn State dropped the first game 4-3, and won the second, 3-2. The pair of games were extremely important for the Nittany Lions, who are looking to keep themselves in position for the NCAA tournament. Let’s see how their performance against the Badgers grades out.
It was a solid, but not excellent weekend for the Nittany Lions’ offense. Penn State scored three goals on 38 shots in the first game. Penn State did a good job of putting the puck in front of the net, as Liam Folkes converted a Alex Limoges pass from right in front of Wisconsin goalie Daniel Lebedeff. Penn State was good at controlling rebounds and putting shots on goal, but Lebedeff stopped 18 shots in the third period to help Wisconsin hold on. Penn State scored three goals once again in game two - this time emerging victorious from a game in which they had 36 shots on goal. The Nittany Lions were once again able to create havoc in front of Lebedeff, which helped them take advantage of rebounds.
Though Penn State has improved defensively this season, the Nittany Lions were weak in the first game. Penn State limited Wisconsin to 27 shots, but the Badgers took advantage of the opportunities they had. A turnover in the defensive zone gave Wisconsin the first of two goals that were scored in an 11 second span, putting Penn State in a hole against a dangerous offensive team. The Nittany Lions lost the game after allowing a goal with 64 seconds left to fall short of the comeback victory.
In game two, Penn State kept the Badgers to 29 shots and two goals, but a turnover at the blue line led to Wisconsin’s first goal. It was an up and down effort for the Nittany Lions, but limiting mistakes in game two helped them get the win.
Coach Guy Gadowsky lead a solid effort for his team, who will likely maintain a favorable spot in the Pairwise rankings. Defense remains a struggle that this team has to battle through, mainly in terms of puck discipline, decision making and execution. Gadowsky’s team has flashes of excellent hockey, but at other times makes glaring mistakes that grant its opponents costly goals. Penn State has the opportunity to finish its regular season strong against Minnesota, as the two teams will battle for the top spot in the Big Ten standings. The Nittany Lions will need to maintain a consistent effort on defense if they are to accomplish their loftiest postseason goals.
Jeremy Ganes is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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