Series Grades: Sacred Heart
There are some high expectations this season for the Penn State men’s hockey team, and to start, they welcomed the Sacred Heart Pioneers for a two-game series at Pegula Ice Arena. The Nittany Lions swept the Pioneers, winning game one 8-2 behind five goals in the third period and game two 5-4, even though the Pioneers scored four goals in the third period. With that, let’s hand out some game grades for the Nittany Lions performance this weekend:
The Nittany Lions offense was nothing short of spectacular in the opening series. In-game one, Alex Limoges and Cole Hults scored goals in the opening period to give Penn State a 2-0 lead. Hults scored two more goals in the final two periods to provide him with a hat trick for the game, and six different Nittany Lions scored goals.
In-game two, Penn State continued the offensive success. Hults scored his fourth of the season, and Brandon Biro scored his first two goals of the season. Mason Snell scored the fifth goal of the game for the Nittany Lions, which turned out to be the game-winning goal because Sacred Heart scored four to make a comeback in the third period.
The problem with Penn State last year was defensive breakdowns in their own zone and bad third periods. Although Penn State won the first game convincingly, there was some sloppy play, and Sacred Heart had their chances to get back in the game. The Pioneers had a bunch of scoring opportunities and outshot the Nittany Lions 15-8 in the second period, but couldn’t cash in.
The second game is why the defense gets a mediocre grade. There were many times last season where Penn State would have a lead going into the third period, but they struggled to finish. Penn State had a 4-0 lead heading into the third period Saturday night, but Sacred Heart scored four goals in the period to make it a game. If it weren’t for that Snell goal in the third period, this game would have been 4-4 and possibly went to overtime. The defense has to be better as the competition stiffens over the next few weeks.
Peyton Jones started both games over the weekend and impressed with some flashy saves. Jones made some huge saves in the second period of the first game as Sacred Heart started to threaten. Jones was 29-of-31 on saves, leading Penn State to victory.
In game two, Jones got off to a great start and didn’t give up a goal through two periods, but struggled in the third. Jones had 35 saves on 39 shots and did just enough to hold the Pioneers.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky’s team played well for the opening series of the weekend. Although there were some butterflies and sloppy play, the Nittany Lions played through it and got two wins to start the year. The team will need to clean some things up for next weekend’s series against Alaska.
Matthew McClure is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact, email email@example.com.