Series Grades: Penn State vs. Clarkson
No. 16 Penn State kicked off its regular season against No. 17 Clarkson and the Nittany Lions were able to sweep the Golden Knights 4-3 on Thursday night and 5-1 on Friday night.
There is no mistaking that Guy Gadowsky’s team love to shoot the puck. The Nittany Lions’ offense was one of the top units last season and they showed no signs of slowing down after a long offseason. Penn State scored nine goals over the two-game series and threw 67 shots at Clarkson goalie Jake Kielly. Brandon Biro scored a goal in each of the two games, including the game winner in game one, and freshman Aarne Talvitie netted his first collegiate goal in game number two at the 5:47 mark of the first period. Gadowsky’s offense was flying around the ice in both games and the Nittany Lions were able to score three third period goals in game number one secure the 4-3 win. Penn State was also able to score on the power play courtesy of Sam Sternschein and while shorthanded courtesy of Nate Sucese. In game two after falling behind 1-0, Alex Limoges and Aaarne Talvitie scored 62 seconds apart to give Penn State the lead for good. As a whole, Penn State’s offense made short work of Clarkson’s defense and the Nittany Lions were virtually firing on all cylinders.
Other than the five penalties committed by the Nittany Lions in the two-game stretch, Penn State’s defense did the little things right and opened the season on a relatively high note. Chris Funkey had 23 saves on Thursday night for a save percentage of .884 and Peyton Jones had 35 saves on Friday night for a save percentage of .972. Two of the goals that Funkey gave up were on blown assignments and the Clarkson offense was able to take advantage of the miscues in an extremely small window of time. The defense was able to take over the end of game one as Funkey made some crucial saves and Merrimack graduate transfer Ludvig Larrson was able to block some shots as crunch time approached. The effort in game two was cleaner as Nikita Pavlychev was able to lay the lumber on Clarkson players throughout the night and a number of big hits led to some extracurricular pushing and shoving during stoppages of play. Penn State asserted their physicality and was able to let Clarkson know about their style of play as each game went on.
Overall, Coach Gadowsky and his staff had his guys fired up for the return of the season and it showed in both games. Gadowsky is a coach that prides himself on being physical and extremely aggressive right from the first puck drop to the final horn. The Nittany Lions were flying out of the gate and were able to put pressure on the Clarkson defense from the get-go. The line changes were crisp and the offensive execution prevailed the Lions to two crucial wins to start 2018. Offensive adjustments in game one led to three third period goals as Penn State was able to get penetration by crashing the net and picking up rebounds. In game two, the defense played possessed and forced Clarkson to make uncontested shots that Peyton Jones gobbled up. The offense in game two remained aggressive and was able to score five unanswered goals after falling behind 1-0 3:33 into the game. Overall, Gadowsky’s game plans in both games fit Penn State’s overall style of play and it showed against No. 17 Clarkson on Thursday and Friday night.
Christopher Hess is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in history. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org