Hockey Game Grades: Penn State vs. Ohio State
It was very much a tale of two games for the Penn State Nittany Lions as they split the weekend and season series with the Ohio State Buckeyes. After dominating en route to a 6-1 victory on Friday, Penn State fell flat on Saturday, falling to their rivals from Ohio, 7-4. Penn State was as bad as they were good in this series and as the game grades show, its tough to pinpoint exactly where the Nittany Lions stand after this weekend.
The Nittany Lions netted 10 goals on the weekend and looked every bit like the fifth best scoring offense in the nation. During Friday’s contest in which they picked apart the Buckeyes, Penn State used their speed and crisp passing to dominate the neutral zone and control the pace of play for the majority of the night. Five Nittany Lions had multi-point games and all six goals were scored by different players. In the second game of the contest, Penn State’s offense awoke from a slumber and netted four straight goals against the Buckeyes to take a brief lead. For most of the game they were firing on all cylinders, but when they needed it the most, Penn State’s top scorers went stagnant.
Friday was a spectacular defensive showing and it may have been one of the more complete efforts from Penn State as a team all season. However, Saturday was awful. Penn State fell behind 3-0 just 10 minutes into the game. Though the offense gave them a brief lead in the game, the defense relinquished that lead quickly, allowing four goals in the final 15 minutes of play. The slot was wide open almost all game of the Buckeyes, who had their way with Penn State’s blue liners. The effort on Saturday was poor enough to bring a grade, that would have been an A, all the way down to a C.
Special Teams: B+
A power play goal each day, a shorthanded goal in game one and only two power play goals allowed marked a very good special teams showing for Penn State. The only knock on the Nittany Lion’s is that they had some chances late in the game on Saturday to extend their lead on the power play and they were unable to. The way they killed penalties was impressive in game one, warding off five of six. However, the Nittany Lions just took too many trips to the sin bin to stay perfect on the penalty kill.
Eamon McAdam was good. Really good. Superb. Fantastic. Exceptional. Dominant. Any way you slice it, McAdam was a huge part of the Penn State win on Friday. He made a plethora of athletic saves that kept Penn State in the game and allowed them to eventually pull away from Ohio State. On Saturday, Matthew Skoff was victimized by a poor defensive effort and didn’t help matters by letting in a few softies. If McAdam was in net Saturday, Penn State may have won the game, but the defense did nothing to help their goaltender in game two of this series.
At some point you have to look at Guy Gadowsky and question why Penn State doesn’t seem to be able to close out series after dominant performances in the first game. You also have to ask why the Nittany Lions aren’t able to string together complete games against Ohio State. Granted it must be tough to get up and play a game with the emotions of senior day, but we have seen Penn State fall flat in game two far too many times. If Gadowsky wants to take this team to the next level, consistency and that killer instinct will be the next two steps.
Jack Milewski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email email@example.com.