Series Grades: Penn State vs. Minnesota
It was a mostly positive trip for the Nittany Lions in Minneapolis. Penn State was able to steal one of two games against a conference rival who ranks in the top ten in the nation.
On the road against No. 7 Minnesota, Penn State won game one 5-3 and dropped game two 4-2 to the Golden Gophers.
It was good for the Nittany Lions to finally win a conference matchup, but the split puts them at 1-5 in the Big Ten and 7-6 overall to begin the season.
Game one the offense was in the A-range. The Nittany Lion offense consisted of five different goal scorers and were 2-2 on their power play opportunities.
Penn State took advantage of the chances it was presented by taking the lead on the power play in the third period. Chase McLane sealed the game with a goal coming just over three minutes to play in the final frame.
Game two was a completely different story. The power play shut down going 0-4 and the Nittany Lion forward group was unable to overcome adversity in the third period.
The offense gets the solid B-grade for having a great game one, scoring first in both contests and putting up a respectable seven goals against one of the best goaltenders in the nation in Jack LaFontaine.
It must first be said that the Golden Gophers are deservedly ranked as a top ten team in the country. Minnesota is a great team, but the Nittany Lion defense showed a lot of flaws.
In both contests the Penn State defense gave up the early lead provided by the offense. Over this tough stretch of Big Ten play for the Nittany Lions, the defense has been unable to hold onto the fast starts the offense gets off to.
The bright spot this past weekend for the Nittany Lion defense was their play in the third period of game one.
Penn State held Minnesota to no goals in the third and later an empty net situation to hold on for the win.
Overall, the Penn State defense was not necessarily bad, it just struggled to make much of an impact against one of the best teams in the nation.
Oskar Autio may not have looked spectacular in the box score giving up three goals in each of the two matchups in Minnesota, but he had a positive series.
In game one Autio had a solid 32 saves including nine out of nine Golden Gopher shots in the third period.
To put the cherry on top, Autio picked up an assist on Chase McLane’s goal that wrapped up the Nittany Lion victory.
In game two Autio had a respectable 25 saves and kept Penn State in the game until the third period.
Autio was not a showstopper this weekend but was one of the best players on the ice for Penn State in the series.
Getting a split on the road against a top ten team in the country and conference opponent would usually warrant a better grade for Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky, but the opportunity for a sweep was right there.
The issue for Penn State’s coaching staff this weekend and throughout the season has been consistency, mainly on special teams and in the third period.
In game one the Penn State power play was 2-2 and the team battled hard to win the game in the third period. In the second game, the Nittany Lions went 0-4 on the power play and lost a game due to their play in the third period.
Going forward coach Gadowsky will need to get his squad to consistently finish games strong if the Nittany Lions want to be competitive in the Big Ten.
Maclain Young is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.