Hockey Game Grades: Penn State vs. Sacred Heart
The Nittany Lions rebounded nicely after going 0-1-2 in their last three games. Returning to home to face the Sacred Heart Pioneers, after a 1-1 tie in Niagara, the Lions got out to a fast start on Friday night scoring three times only to be answered twice in the last two minutes of the first period. That was the last of the scoring for the Pioneers as Penn State went on to post five unanswered goals.
Saturday was a bit of a different story. An embarrassed Sacred Heart team came to play and got out to a 1-0, their first goal was waved off on a delayed offsides call, but the Pioneers responded just minutes later. In the second period, the Nittany Lions came out firing on all cylinders and freshman forward Chase Berger netted two goals, his seventh and eighth of the season, leading the Big Ten. His first a shorthanded goal, the Lions’ second of the series, and his second on a beautiful turnaround shot. It was an extremely physical game, and in two different incidents players from both teams were sent to the box for roughing minors. Sacred Heart knotted the game at two early in the third period, but Tommy Olczyk came through with less than 10 minutes remaining to give Penn State a 3-2 lead that they would hold on to.
It’s hard to have any complaints after scoring 11 in two days, especially after only scoring five in their last three games. The Nittany Lions posted 51 shots on Friday and then 67 on Saturday outshooting the Pioneers 118-83. The Lions were able to get a lot of time in their offensive zone, and only struggled in the first period of the second game, certainly understandable after an eight-goal performance the night prior. The Lions also chased Pioneer goalie Brett Magnus from Friday’s game, which was the first time this season Magnus hasn’t been the man between the pipes.
Again, it’s hard to give Penn State anything less than an A after their performance this weekend. They limited Sacred Heart to an average of 41.5 shots per game, not fantastic but certainly not bad, and did a great job of keeping shots away from the net.
Not only did both Eamon McAdam and Matthew Skoff both get a win, they both only let up two goals. At times both stood on their heads to make some fantastic saves, and in the second game Skoff held the Pioneers from tying the game in the final minute of play facing a barrage of shots.
Special Teams: A+++
Penn State special teams did it all this weekend. The penalty kill was 4-for-4 and tallied two short-handed goals from Kenny Brooks and Chase Berger, but more impressive was the power play unit. The Nittany Lions scored five goals on seven opportunities in the first game of the series.
Although it’s hard to fault coaching, the Nittany Lions came out somewhat flat in the second game. I understand it’s extremely hard for any coaching staff to keep a team motivated after such a big win, but Penn State could’ve avoided a close call if they came out playing true Penn State hockey.
Brandon Pelter is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism and finance. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org