Hockey Game Grades: Princeton
Penn State continued their skid since being ranked first in the NCAA by falling to Princeton Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia for the fifth annual Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff. Penn State was ranked fourth coming into the game and started off well, leading by two at the end of the second period. Even with goalie Peyton Jones earning a new career-high saves mark with 36 in the game, Penn State couldn’t eke out the win. Princeton’s three-goal third period overcame the Nittany Lions with a score of 5-4. Penn State is now 16-4-2 on the season while Princeton is 8-11-2. Penn State is now 3-2 all time at the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff.
Here are the position grades for the match.
Even with the uncharacteristically poor overall play of their team, Penn State managed to outshoot the Princeton Tigers 47-41. What really matters however are the number of goals at the end of the game and even with more shots, the Nittany Lion offense just couldn’t get around Tigers’ goalie Colton Phinney after the first period. Penn State came out of the gate strong, scoring three goals in the first period for the tenth time this season. Penn State’s goals came from Andrew Sturtz (2), David Goodwin, and Kris Myllari. Phinney became a brick wall after the first period, the only other goal being Sturtz’s second goal at the end of the second period to give Penn State the two goal lead.
Penn State’s offense needs to make sure they don’t get complacent when leading early. Penn State’s shot tally decreased each period as the team couldn’t find a way to get around the Tiger’s defense.
There aren’t many positives for the Nittany Lion defense this week. Penn State gave up three goals in the third period for the second straight game, both of which ended in losses. This is also the first time that Penn State has lost a game after leading at the end of the second period. While leading after two, Penn State now has a record of 14-1-2 on the season. Princeton managed 41 shots in the game, a season high for the Nittany Lion defense. Princeton also looked to have Penn State’s number throughout the game, especially in the third. It was certainly not a great performance for the Penn State defense, who had been so dominant until their recent slump.
There is one bright side however, junior Trevor Hamilton notched his 17th assist of the season early in the game, claiming a new single-season defenseman record.
Coach Gadowsky will likely focus on compelling his team through all 60 minutes of play as to not give up such a poor third period a third time.
Considering how many shots he had to stop, Penn State’s freshman goalie Peyton Jones played a good game. He earned a new career-high with 36 saves and would have kept the game at 4-4 if he hadn’t mistook a strange ricochet off of the glass near the end of the game for the puck going out of bounds. Now 14-3-2 on the season, Jones doesn’t have too much that he needs to change. Surely Jones will learn from his mistake of not waiting for the whistle of a dead play at the end of the game and will continue to play well for the Nittany Lions. If he had stayed aware in that moment, the game could have gone either way.
Special Teams: C-
Penn State had a very good penalty killing record before their current slump. Ahead of Saturday’s matchup, they had an 87.5 kill percentage. Princeton scored twice during the game on their four power-plays, getting six shots off during that time. Penn State had given up less than one power-play goal every two games on average before their loss to the Tigers.
The Nittany Lions couldn’t get much going consistently on the offensive side of the power-play either, only scoring on one of their four chances. Their one power-play goal came as one of the three scores the Lions put up in the first period, while all three chances they failed to utilize came in the third, when they needed the goals the most. They also managed only one shot throughout all three power-play opportunities in the third period.
The Nittany Lions will look to turn their fortunes around as they travel to Minnesota for a two game series this upcoming Friday and Saturday against the Golden Gophers.
Tommy Butler is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.