MHKY Game Grades – Wisconsin
What a difference a week makes. After being outmatched in every aspect of the game last weekend against Minnesota, Penn State flipped a switch and dealt Wisconsin their first Big Ten conference sweep of the season. The Nittany Lions were the faster team and they certainly looked like a squad more than ready to jump out of their slump. Here are the game grades from the weekend series in Madison.
Offense - A
Swarming. Relentless for large portions of the series and not to mention much better than the last couple of weekends. Lead by captain David Goodwin, who was the catalyst in game one, Penn State scored 11 goals in the two games. Denis Smirnov found his scoring touch with three goals on the weekend and Nate Sucese chipped in with two goals on Saturday. The offense came in waves and the Badgers were clearly outmatched on the offensive side of the puck. Penn State once again showcased how good they can be offensively and how deep their team is. Friday also marked the first time all season Penn State had been outshot and won.
Defense - A+
I consider myself a tough grader, but the Nittany Lions absolutely deserved that grade. This was the best defensive effort we have seen from Penn State since their weekend romp against Michigan to start Big Ten play, the key being the fore-check. Outside of Brent Murray, Zach Sarr, and Nikita Pavlychev, Penn State is a small team that needs to rely on speed as their biggest defensive weapon. That was clearly evident on Friday and the Nittany Lions got even better on Saturday. It was an absolute clinic on defense, especially the fore-check which bottled Wisconsin up in their own zone countless times.
Goaltending - B+
Jones was very good at times this weekend, but as is expected with a freshman, he was also shaky at times. It was a huge step forward for the team and Jones himself looked much stronger between the pipes. The one thing that is concerning is the rebound control that Jones has on occasion. Wisconsin had a few prime opportunities to score because of sloppy rebound control. A couple went in and a couple led to scrambles in front. Either way, Jones was solid, but can also be much better for Penn State.
Special Teams - B-
If there was one part of the weekend that wasn’t that great, it was the special teams for Penn State. The power play has hit a little rut. Though Goodwin started the scoring on the power play on night one, overall it still looked like a work in progress for Penn State. The biggest goal of the weekend in my opinion came shorthanded when Trevor Hamilton potted a shot just 40 seconds in to the third period on night one to give Penn State a three goal lead. Still, the penalty kill gave up three goals on the weekend and the power play, which was once so strong, has slowed down a lot in past weeks.
Coaching - A
Give it to Coach Gadowsky and his crew, they had a plan in mind. Gadowsky said despite the results in Minnesota, he was happy with the direction the team was headed in. He was right. After the Princeton series, the focus for Penn State was back to the basics with good defense. The defense was by far the strongest part of their effort over the weekend. In a series that Penn State desperately needed to at least split, the Nittany Lions claimed all six points and Gadowsky got win number 250 and 251. Not bad.
Jack Milewski is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.