Michigan State Series Grades
The No.18 ranked Nittany Lions hockey team was in East Lansing for a series with Michigan State this past weekend, attempting to gain crucial ground in the Big Ten standings. Although Penn State was desperate for a sweep of the lowly Spartans and the six points in the standings that come with it, they ended up settling for just three points, splitting the series by identical scores of 5-3. It wasn’t an ideal weekend, but there were many positives. Here the weekend’s series grades:
Throughout the year, Penn State, with the number one offense in the country by a wide margin (4.63 goals per game), and has relied on its scoring and offensive attack. This weekend was no different, and, like in previous games, when the offense sputters the team as a whole suffers.
Friday, the offense was by no means terrible, with two power play goals and an outrageous 47 shots. However, the Lions are so reliant on their offense, that three goals simply is not enough for them to succeed. Saturday, the offense was significantly better, scoring early and often, taking advantage of Michigan State turnovers as well as chances on the power play.
To go along with the immense amount of reliability Penn State has on their potent offense, they have very little reliability on their defense. The defense was alright on Friday, and although they were not great, they were also rarely bailed out by their goaltender.
Saturday was a better performance, as they were able to hold the Spartans to just three goals, and limited offensive zone time. Additionally, in the two games, the Spartans managed just 56 shots, well below the average amount Penn State allows in a series.
Junior Peyton Jones, who the Lions have been leaning on all year, had one of the worst games of his college career Friday, allowing four goals on just 13 shots, before getting pulled in favor of freshman Oskar Autio less than halfway through the game. Autio fared very well given the situation, but the damage was already done. Despite his poor performance, Jones was given the start Saturday, where he performed much better, stopping 27 of 30 shots in the win, and coming up big for the Nittany Lions multiple times on the penalty kill.
Jeremy Schooler is a sophomore studying broadcast journalism and business. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.