Hockey Game Grades: Ohio State
Penn State men’s hockey had a disappointing weekend after tying the Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday and dropping the second game on Saturday. No. 11 Ohio State defeated the No. 1 Nittany Lions in a shootout on Friday, which is recorded in as a tie. On Saturday, the Buckeyes scored three times in the third period to upset the Lions 6-3.
The Buckeyes are now 12-4-6 overall and Penn State drops to 16-3-2 on the year and 5-2-1-0 in the Big Ten Conference. In addition, on Sunday the latest Pairwise rankings were released, moving Penn State from No. 1 to No. 4 and moving Ohio State from No. 11 to No. 8.
The Lions were ready to prove their No. 1 spot in the nation for the first time since joining the NCAA five years ago, but were unfortunately outplayed both nights. It was an unexpected outcome and an upsetting series. Here are this week’s game grades.
Penn State’s forwards came out firing Friday night, especially in the first period. The Lions almost doubled the Buckeyes in the shots category, edging Ohio 59 to 27. However, every time Penn State scored a goal, the Buckeyes would come right back and score a goal of their own. Penn State controlled most of the play on Friday, which is a positive for their offense. Unfortunately, Penn State’s offense did not come out firing on Saturday. It was the worst showing from Penn State all season. For a team that is usually dynamic on offense and flourishes on sustained pressure, the Nittany Lions failed to play consistent hockey in the Buckeye zone. It seemed as if Penn State was looking for more big plays before they could even get in a rhythm offensively. Penn State did not look like the fast-paced team that creates countless chances in the offensive zone. This, of course, does not take anything away from Ohio State’s goaltender, Christian Frey, who played unbelievable hockey between the pipes.
Penn State hockey is defined by a fast offense that consistently takes shots on net. This means it’s a hockey team that focuses on puck possession more than play in their own defensive zone. It doesn’t mean Penn State doesn’t have the talent to play shutdown hockey. Players such as David Thompson and Erik Autio are two prime examples of that type of play. However, because the team couldn’t get their usual sustained pressure, the defense had a harder time stopping the Buckeye forwards. On Friday the defense was unable to keep Penn State on top and allowed a tying goal every time the Lions scored. On Saturday, the defense allowed six goals and three alone in the third period.
Peyton Jones had been impeccable coming into the weekend series between Penn State and Ohio State, winning 14 of the 16 games he played. On Friday he held the Buckeyes to three goals and made some incredible saves during regulation and in the shootout. On Saturday, however, Jones let in six goals and three soft goals in the third. Six goals is very uncharacteristic for Jones. After letting in a goal, he usually does a solid job of regrouping and regaining confidence. Unfortunately, in the third, Jones let in a couple back-to-back goals, which should have been prevented. Yes, the defense should have done a better job of applying pressure, but Jones should have made those easy saves. Hockey Valley fans were even questioning whether backup goaltender, Chris Funkey, should have replaced Jones in the third. Hopefully for Guy Gadowsky and the Nittany Lions, it was just an off game for the freshman.
Special Teams: C+
Penn State went zero for five on the power play opportunities through the two game series versus Ohio State. The Nittany Lions could have capitalized on some of those key moments to either steal the win on Friday or take the game into overtime on Saturday. Penn State went zero for three on Friday and allowed the Buckeyes back in the game to win it in a shootout. On Saturday, Penn State went zero for two and failed to score on a crucial five-minute major. The Nittany Lions were again unable to get sustained pressure on offense even on a five-minute power play, which could have led to a goal or two. On the penalty kill, the Nittany Lions were able to hold Ohio State to a goal apiece in each game. Penn State played well defensively on Friday killing three of the four power plays. However, the Lions allowed a key power play goal by Mason Jobst in the third period to tie the game. On Saturday, Penn State gave Jobst another power play goal in the first, which led to the Buckeyes momentum for the rest of the game.
Penn State will look to regain their offensive surge in their upcoming play as they travel to the Wells Fargo Center to battle against Princeton next Saturday.
Alissa Devine is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org