Game Grades: Penn State vs. AIC
It was an explosive weekend for Guy Gadowsky and his Nittany Lions, grabbing a series sweep over the AIC Yellow Jackets. Offensive production was the name of the game for the Lions, defeating AIC 8-3 on Friday night and 5-3 on Saturday afternoon. With their two wins, the Nittany Lions improve their overall record to 4-1 and continue to steamroll their out-of-conference opposition.
It was apparent that Guy Gadowsky’s “shoot first, think second” mentality was alive and well throughout the weekend. The Nittany Lions peppered over 100 shots against the Yellow Jackets and racked up 13 goals. The Lions were splendid along the boards and displayed their physicality early in both games. The scoring was provided in various ways throughout the weekend, but the most notable goal goes to freshman winger Andrew Sturtz. Sturtz had a fantastic display of hand-eye coordination as he drove to the net, past multiple defenders, and through a nasty deke to beat Yellow Jackets goalie Hunter Leisner in Saturday’s contest.
Despite their victories, the Nittany Lions defensive play still has room to grow. AIC was able to manufacture six goals throughout the weekend and generate some rather exceptional scoring chances. With the loss of big names like Patrick Koudys and Nate Jensen to graduation, the Nittany Lions’ blue line is struggling in the size department. AIC was able to move the puck to the goal-mouth on numerous occasions and force Eamon McAdam and Matthew Skoff to make some big saves to keep their team afloat. Ultimately, Guy Gadowsky should be running an array of defensive drills this coming week in practice. They got the wins, but there is work to be done.
Even though several goals that were generated by AIC came from defensive breakdowns, the goaltending stood strong and was able to buy the offense time to put goals on the board. In Friday night’s game, Skoff was a wall, allowing three goals on 25 shots. Skoff was also tested with two AIC power plays, in which he was able to blank the Yellow Jackets in their special team efforts. On Saturday, McAdam stood tall between the pipes and put up similar numbers to Skoff. Three goals were scored on the sophomore net-minder, but two of the three came from defensive breakdowns. McAdam looked stronger as the game progressed and gave his team a chance to generate a late comeback.
POWER PLAY: C
Throughout the weekend, the Nittany Lions were given seven power play opportunities and were only able to manufacture one goal. The special teams were able to move the puck fluidly against the AIC penalty kill, however, they were unable to generate quality scoring chances from all the puck movement. The lone goal came from Dylan Richard, who pounced on a juicy rebound generated from a shot from the blue line. With an offensive heavy weekend, fans and coaches certainly would have wanted to see some better power play numbers than 1-7.
PENALTY KILL: B+
On the other side of special teams, the Lions penalty kill was effective, allowing only one goal on just five short-handed chances. AIC had difficulty moving the puck rapidly to generate shooting lanes and when a shot was taken, Penn State was fantastic at clearing the puck down the ice and limiting second chance opportunities. Guy Gadowsky has stressed the importance of a strong penalty kill squad, and this past weekend he got just that. But then again, only taking five penalties all weekend is a great way to keep the opposition off of the scoring sheet.
Ryan Ruff is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.