Hockey Game Grades: Penn State vs. Michigan
It certainly wasn’t the series that Penn State wanted against Michigan on the ice, dropping both games. At home on Thursday, the Nittany Lions lost 7-4 in a game that Michigan controlled and Saturday at Madison Square Garden they lost 6-3 on a big Wolverine third period. Penn State was in the lead heading into the third period but Michigan came out determined to walk away with a win and scored four goals to take the victory.
At times the Penn State offense seemed stagnant while at other times they looked explosive. At the end of the day though, they weren’t able to take advantage of all the opportunities presented to them especially with a shaky goaltender in Steve Racine in the crease for the Wolverines. In the first game Penn State did outshoot the Wolverines 50-49, but in game two, Penn State only recorded 36 total shots.
Although the Nittany Lions had a tall task in trying to tame the explosive line of JT Compher, Kyle Connor and Tyler Motte, the defense was at times nowhere to be found getting caught in shift changes multiple times. Of course the speed of that top line didn’t help but getting caught out of position too far up in the offensive zone really hurt as well leading to a few breakaway goals. In game two, especially, they did a great job in the first two periods of staying back in position and using poke checks to break up plays but in the third period the Wolverine speed shined through. Although the goaltending wasn’t superb, the defense certainly could play much much better.
As previously mentioned the defense didn’t help much, and at times both Matthew Skoff and Eamon McAdam made highlight reel stops, but at the end of the day it’s hard to give a solid rating to the goalies when they are swept. Both goalies had sub-.900 save percentage and both allowed more than five goals.
The Nittany Lions certainly weren’t at top form this weekend and, although we can’t see into the locker room, as an outsider looking in, having a fire lit under them could’ve helped a bit. Coach Gadowsky rarely, if ever, will get angry but if there was ever a good time it would’ve been sometime this series. Additionally, the line changes were extremely slow this weekend which left some wide open space for the dangerous Wolverines.
Special Teams: C
The special teams play really didn’t help the Nittany Lions at all this weekend. Although in two games they held Michigan 2-9 in power play goals they only scored one of their own in six attempts. Additionally, they gave up a shorthanded goal which certainly didn’t help the cause. In six power plays, Penn State only managed to record seven shots.
The Nittany Lions will have to bounce back and return to top form. They return to action this weekend for a series on the road against Minnesota. In their first meeting this season they split the series.
Brandon Pelter is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism and finance. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.