Hockey Game Grades: Wisconsin
Penn State made things a little easier on themselves in terms of qualifying for the NCAA tournament as they were able to gain a split against No. 16 Wisconsin over the weekend. After a sloppy showing Friday night, Penn State exploded with a dominant 6-0 victory on senior night. The Nittany Lions sit at No. 9 in the Pairwise rankings with just one regular season series remaining. Here are the game grades from the weekend.
The scoring was balanced and it was there all weekend. Penn State scored 10 goals in just two games and looked like one of the best offenses in the nation. Despite the fact that there were some lengthy dry spells in night one, Penn State still was able to provide enough offense to keep it close until late. There was no question that Penn State wanted revenge Saturday night and they did so in fashion with those six goals. It was as balanced and dominant on offense as Penn State has looked all season.
It was certainly a tale of two games, but all in all, Saturday’s dominance outweighs Friday’s mishaps. Wisconsin is one of the most dominant offenses in the nation, a top seven team in goals per game, and Penn State held them to nothing on Saturday. As good as the offense was, the defense was the key to Penn State’s victory as they smothered Wisconsin and made it difficult for them to even maneuver through the neutral zone. It is efforts like that on defense that Penn State will need to make waves in the Big Ten and NCAA tournament.
Special Teams- A
The power play was 3-7 against the fifth-best penalty kill in the nation and the penalty kill didn’t give up anything to the ninth-best power play. In other words, Penn State won the special teams battle and then some. Wisconsin is the only team in the nation rated in the top 10 in both power play percentage and penalty kill and Penn State bested them in both aspects of the game. The Nittany Lions used the power play to take over game two and they even killed off a five-minute major in game one. Nothing to complain about here.
Jones looked bad, to put it fairly, on Friday night. His rebound control was off, he let in a few squeakers and he seemed overwhelmed by the attack from Wisconsin. Night two, as it was for almost the entire team, was a rebound of sorts. Jones looked calm, made some big saves early and kept the Nittany Lions in the game when it was still in question. Consistency is the key for the freshman net minder this late into the season.
On senior night, the seniors get a grade and oh, what a way to go out. Captain David Goodwin led the way with two goals, David Thompson had one and Zach Saar added the exclamation point with a power play snipe with under 20 seconds remaining. On a night that was to celebrate the first class to play all their games inside Pegula Ice Arena, the five seniors not only lead the way, but they made sure to leave their mark as well.
Jack Milewski is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.