Series Grades: Men’s Hockey vs. Minnesota
In their final regular season series, the Penn State Nittany Lions swept the Minnesota Golden Gophers, taking five of the six available conference points after a double overtime win on Friday and regulation win on Saturday night. This was the biggest series of the year for both teams, as they were tied for first place in the Big Ten with 36 points. Let’s take a look at the series grades.
Penn State had its shooting sticks in this series. Particularly on Friday, where the Nittany Lions outshot the Gophers, 57-25. In both games combined, Penn State had 99 shots. Passes were tape-to-tape in both games and the Nittany Lions cycled the puck very well. Penn State had tons of net-front traffic, which led to Brandon Biro’s third period goal in Game one. This set the tone for the entire series, because the offense didn’t stop pushing when the momentum was with the Gophers. The Nittany Lions got production from up and down the lineup. The hero in
Friday’s 3-on-3 overtime was Alex Limoges, and freshman Kevin Wall on Saturday. Wall notched his second goal of the season, which was the game-winner, and his first home goal as a Nittany Lion.
The Nittany Lions defense was phenomenal. They did a good job of pinching at their own blue line, which made the Gophers dump the puck in. Penn State had most of its opportunities in transition. The Nittany Lions moved the puck north to south very quickly and the return of defenseman Clayton Phillips bolstered it. The defense units also did an excellent job with their sticks, breaking up many Minnesota rushes. One defenseman that stood out was Paul DeNaples. He broke up several Gopher pass attempts.
Goalie Peyton Jones was yet again phenomenal in his final regular season series, posting a 2.61 goals against average and a .91 save percentage with 43 saves.
Coach Guy Gadowsky must have created some sort of spark in his squad when they were down in both games. They had a sort of grit in them that hasn’t been seen before. They were chasing after every loose puck and getting into the dirty areas of the ice like in the corners and in front of the net. When the Gophers took the lead on Friday with 12:01 remaining in the third period, the Nittany Lions didn’t let that go to their heads, as Brandon Biro tied the game two minutes later.
On Saturday, Penn State was down by two through the majority of the game. Evan Barratt gave Penn State momentum heading into the second intermission. Whatever Gadowsky said in the locker room during the second intermission got the Nittany Lions rolling, scoring two unanswered goals from Nikita Pavlychev and Wall. Gadowsky has been high on Wall’s recent hot stretch.
Jacob Cheris is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.