Series Grades: Penn State Men’s Hockey vs. Notre Dame
A little bit of everything.
That was the feeling around Pegula Ice Arena this past weekend as Penn State battled Notre Dame in a crucial Big Ten series.
The weekend full of ups and downs saw the Nittany Lions earn a series split with the Fighting Irish, finishing strong with a win in the ninth annual “Wear White” game.
From record-breaking crowds, to clutch goals, here’s a look at how each position group performed over the weekend.
In this series, the play of the forwards felt like vintage Guy-Gadowsky-hockey.
The Nittany Lions fired a whopping 98 shots on goal over the two tilts against the Irish.
However, Penn State was only able to muster four goals on the nearly 100 shots on target as Notre Dame goaltender Ryan Bischel made a career-high 52 saves on Friday night.
Obviously, not all the shots on goal were quality, but that’s something the Nittany Lions accept with their style of play.
Ultimately, the forward group went out there and executed what they wanted to do in this series. The results just failed to come on night one, before the bounces went Penn State’s way in game two.
Perhaps the highlight of the entire weekend for the Nittany Lions were their group of defensemen.
The d-men held the Fighting Irish to just two goals on each night of the series and sophomore Simon Mack netted the opening tally in the “Wear White” game.
Mack recognized a break and smartly jumped up into the play, driving to the net, receiving and clinically depositing a feed from junior forward Chase McLane.
Another positive from the d-corps was the pairing of freshmen Jarod Crespo and Carter Schade. The two looked mature on the ice handling duties as the top pair for a chunk of both contests.
For a group that has so many freshmen, the Penn State defensemen are looking like a seasoned group at the right time in the campaign.
That feels like the word to describe Liam Souliere all season long and in this series.
Did the goaltender steal the game or a series?
Did he make the big saves when he had to?
Souliere stopped 51 of Notre Dame’s 55 total shots in the series making a handful of good saves. The junior netminder was poised despite being on the penalty kill eight times over the two games.
In the past, goaltending has been hit-or-miss with the Nittany Lions, but this season Liam Souliere has made the position one of the team’s core strengths.
It’s difficult to grade Guy Gadowsky and the coaching staff on this weekend’s performance.
On one hand, Penn State executed their style of hockey over both games by firing a ton of shots on goal and limiting the opponents' opportunities on the other end.
On the other hand, the Nittany Lions didn’t seem to make any major adjustments Friday night as they only were able to push one over the line. On Saturday night Penn State had to play most of the game from behind due to some self-inflicted wounds.
All in all, Gadowsky and co. did a phenomenal job rallying the troops late in game two playing physical yet disciplined hockey.
It all led up to the perfectly poetic game-winning goal as hard-working junior Christian Sarlo put the puck in the net off an assist from his buddy and equally hard-working Xander Lamppa.
Losing the special teams battle in both games isn’t great and failing to score on the power play throughout the series is less than ideal, but the Penn State coaching staff helped will their squad to an emotional and vital “Wear White” game victory.
As mentioned at the top, this series was a bit of a whirlwind of emotions for the Penn State team and even the coaching staff. Pegula Ice Arena saw its attendance record broken on consecutive nights, topping out at 6,566 fans rocking the building.
The Nittany Lions were just 2-5-1 in “Wear White” games before Saturday evening. They had only defeated Wisconsin in the annual contest since its inception.
Thankfully for Penn State and its fans, the squad ended the series on a high note sending the record-setting crowd home happy.
Maclain Young is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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Second Year / Broadcast Journalism