Series Preview: Penn State Men’s Hockey vs. Mercyhurst
One wild weekend in the books and Penn State finds itself 2-0 off the backs of some stellar offense.
The Nittany Lion offense was running rampant as they scored 12 goals and converted on 50% of their power play opportunities.
Their shiny new transfers stole the show as Ture Linden had two multi-point outings and Ashton Calder scored a goal in each game.
Penn State’s first line of Kevin Wall, Ture Linden and Ryan Kirwan also starred as each member amassed 5 points on the weekend. Kirwan was honored as Big Ten Third Star of the Week and Wall had one of his goals put on SportsCenter’s Top Ten Plays.
It was not all sunshine and rainbows for the Nittany Lions as the Griffins continued to act as a thorn in the side of the Penn State team. The blue and white’s penalty kill was just 50% for the series.
This weekend, the Nittany Lions will face off with Mercyhurst in a home-and-home series beginning Thursday night.
Coach Guy Gadowsky wants to try and improve the defense and penalty kill in their upcoming series.
“(We had) meetings about why we got down and why we had to kill penalties,” Gadowsky said. He also added that Penn State was “not great” defending the rush, defensive positioning and clearing the puck.
Penn State has an extremely young group on the back end, playing up to four freshman defenseman against Canisius and a freshman goaltender in Game 2.
However, freshman defenseman Carter Schade has a lot of confidence in himself and his young teammates after getting their first series under their belts.
“We’re all pulling for each other, we’re all playing,” Schade said. “We’re always competing in practice, competing during games trying to prove ourselves.”
Mercyhurst enters this series 0-4 but has played every team tough, especially the lone Big Ten foe they faced this season.
The Lakers played close with the Ohio State Buckeyes right to the end thanks to their strong defense and solid goaltending.
However, Mercyhurst has struggled on the offensive in the early part of this season averaging just two goals per game.
One storyline to keep an eye on for Penn State is the goaltending situation. Junior Liam Souliere was held out Saturday night due to a slight injury according to Guy Gadowsky.
Gadowsky said that Souliere is okay and that we should expect to see him in this series, but added a nervous shrug with that statement.
How much we see Souliere and in what capacity should be interesting especially after his stellar play in the Nittany Lions’ opening game of the season.
On opening night Souliere stopped 34-of-36 Griffins shots leading his squad to victory. Freshman goaltender Noah Grannan started game two and allowed five Griffs goals.
Despite some of the early defensive struggles, coach Gadowsky feels good about the state of his team.
“I think we’re much farther ahead than we were last year and it feels good,” Gadowsky said.
Like Canisius, Mercyhurst should give Penn State a run for its money. However, the Nittany Lions are a series older and should be able to come away with a series sweep over the Lakers.
Maclain Young is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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