Series Grades: Arizona State
The Penn State Nittany Lions battled the Arizona State Sun Devils in the final series of phase one of the Big Ten Hockey season. Penn State swept the Sun Devils, 3-2 and 5-4, with both games requiring extra time. Connor McMenamin was the hero on Sunday, earning Penn State its first sweep of the season and its third straight win. Here are the series grades for this wild series.
With each game, the offense continues to get better. Alex Limoges has been Penn State’s hottest player, scoring three goals in this series, two on the power play, netting him the team lead in goals (five).
Passes are tape-to-tape, and Penn State is playing fast-paced, north-south hockey. Two of Limoges’ goals were from excellent puck movement.
One concern for the next series is Jared Wescott. Westcott was injured in the first period of Game 2 against Arizona State and did not return. He has been phenomenal, using his speed to create high-danger scoring opportunities for the Nittany Lions.
Even though the Nittany Lions won Game 1, turnovers have been the one thing that has been killing them. On top of that, the Sun Devils were given too much open ice to operate, which led to many odd-man rushes, explaining why they came back from a 2-0 deficit in Game 1.
Arizona State got off to a 3-0 start in Game 2 because of careless puck management by the Nittany Lions, most noticeably in the defensive zone. Toward the end of the game, the defense came up clutch blocking shots, totaling 35 blocked shots in the series.
Oskar Autio continues to get better with each game that he plays. Though his numbers might say otherwise, he was very fluid with his movements side-to-side and is coming out at the top of the crease to face shots. Autio had 32 saves on 34 Arizona State attempts.
Liam Souliére got the start in Game 2 and was very good. Though he looked rusty at the start of Game 2, he settled in quickly once Penn State cleaned up its game. He had 36 saves.
It seems that Autio has won the starting job because of how well he played in Game 1, so it was a little surprising that head coach Guy Gadowsky went to Souliére on Sunday.
Gadowsky used his only timeout just five minutes into Game 2. Whatever he said to his squad sparked life into the Nittany Lions. They dominated the rest of the game and came back from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits.
The one thing that Gadowsky has to address immediately is the penalty kill. Penn State had a total of 16 penalty minutes, and some penalties were undisciplined. Xander Lamppa took an unnecessary boarding penalty in Game 1, but the PK unit killed it off and went a perfect 4-for-4 in Game 1.
Furthermore, line changes were not always crisp, and this gave the Sun Devils a lot of breakaways.
Jacob Cheris is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.