Hockey Game Grades: Penn State vs. St. Lawrence
Over six periods of hockey, the young Penn State team revealed a lot. The team had a victory over St. Lawrence on Thursday, but lost to the Saints the following night.
Game one: Penn State 4, St.Lawrence 2
Game two: St.Lawrence 6, Penn State 3
The offense was barely an offense in the beginning of the game. Most of the shots were made during fast paced transition plays. Eventually senior captain David Goodwin took command of the ice and slowed down tempo. The freshmen, such as Denis Smirnov, demonstrated excellent poise and stick skills to set up open shots.
Back-to-back scoring allowed for the Lions to feel comfortable in the first game and secure the win. The team was able to get off 39 shots on the Saints’ defense throughout the night and put pressure on goalie Kyle Hayton. One issue the Lions had on offense was capitalizing on the many power play opportunities the team was given. The team was 0-5 when having the man advantage.
The offense on the second night was noticeably frustrated after many well placed shots were either bouncing off the pipes or blocked by Hayton. Lanes began to open up after the 3 shot deficit the Lions found themselves in early in the game, but the Lions couldn't find a way to consistently get the puck past the goalie. Despite owning the time of possession, the Lions’ offense fell short on Friday night.
Kevin Kerr proved to have the most hockey smarts on the Nittany Lion defense. The sophomore stopped the Saints in transition and collected multiple steals.
St. Lawrence’s goals were scored when they were able to reach the interior of the defense. This occurred when the young defense would have a breakdown in concentration and give the capable Saints offense a lane.
Outside of the opening minutes, when St. Lawrence capitalized on well placed transition shots, the defense maintained a stout defense throughout the second game. Penn State’s defense benefited most when the offense slowed down and patiently let plays develop.
After the first game, it seemed like Peyton Jones would be the undisputed starter heading into the rest of the season. Jones had 28 saves and kept the Saints from getting back into the game. The initial game grade was an easy A.
Things got bad quick in the first few minutes of the second game. Within five minutes, Jones had let three of the eight shots on goal slip past him. Head coach Guy Gadowsky pulled the freshman from the game and put in sophomore Chris Funkey. Funkey did a decent job of defending the net. He had 15 saves and only allowed one goal.
It will be interesting to see how Gadowsky approaches the goalie position after seeing such opposite performances from Jones.