Series Grades: Ohio State
No. 6 Penn State split its home series against Ohio State, taking the first game in a 5-4 victory but also dropping the second game in a 4-3 defeat. Penn State ends the weekend with a 10-3 overall record and a 6-2 record in the Big Ten, which is still good for first place in the league. Let’s hand out some series grades for the Nittany Lions’ weekend performance against Ohio State.
Penn State’s attack was solid in both games, especially in Game 1, where the Nittany Lions shot 41 times and scored five goals in a hard-fought game. In Game 2, however, the Nittany Lions were a few big plays short of securing a sweep, as they were unable to figure out replacement goaltender Ryan Snowden, who shut out Penn State in the third period after Tommy Nappier conceded three goals through the first two periods.
Sam Sternschein continued his torrid start to Big Ten play with two goals and an assist in the first contest but was held scoreless in the follow-up game. The Nittany Lions also had trouble winning faceoffs in Game 2, as Ohio State ruled puck possession and left Penn State constantly running down the puck. Despite the struggles, Alex Limoges notched his fifth multi-point game of the season, all five of which have come during his current five-game point streak.
The defense started out mostly strong for the Nittany Lions, holding the Buckeyes to just one goal over the first two periods of the opening game. Ohio State tacked on a power-play goal from Gustaf Westland, but Penn State stretched the lead to 5-2 after third period goals from Sternschein and Liam Folkes. However, the Buckeyes battled back, scoring two quick goals in the final two minutes of the game, falling just short in the 5-4 loss. Penn State has occasionally shown trouble playing with leads, but the pesky nature of Ohio State’s play style was also a factor.
Either way, the defense wasn’t quite strong enough to contain the Buckeyes in Game 2. Peyton Jones allowed four goals like he did in the first game, and this time, a less-than-stellar offensive showing turned a similar defensive pace into a losing formula. Faceoffs became a big factor in the second game, as the 42-32 margin in favor of the Buckeyes gave them more chances than the Nittany Lions could stop. It wasn’t an awful defensive effort on the weekend, but if the offense wasn’t there, the outcome of the series could have been quite different.
Jones was very good as usual, stopping 58 shots over the course of the series and posting a .897 save percentage, but it certainly was not one of Jones’ best weekends. He did well to keep Ohio State to one goal before letting up three in the third period of Game 1, but he also let up at least one goal in each period of the second game.
Coaching penalties out of the team has been a point of emphasis for head coach Guy Gadowsky, but this wasn’t Penn State’s best series in that regard. The Buckeyes capitalized with power-play goals in both games. That seems to be one of the more noticeable flaws with Penn State. Gadowsky also wasn’t satisfied with the faceoffs, noting that possession of the puck played a big role during the weekend.
Jeremy Ganes is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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