Soulière Struggles, Penn State Falls to Michigan State in Game 2
EAST LANSING, Mich. — An ongoing problem continues. Liam Soulière looked horrendous, as Penn State gave up five goals to Michigan State, one of the worst offensive teams in the country, in a 5-1 loss.
Coming into the series, Michigan State was averaging below two goals per game. After Penn State shut out the Spartans in Game 1, it appeared head coach Guy Gadowsky would ride the hot hand and play netminder Oskar Autio in Game 2. Instead, Gadowsky, now in his ninth year, elected to go with the freshman Soulière, despite a few shaky performances earlier this season.
Hindsight is 20/20. Soulière gave up two goals on Michigan State’s first three shots.
First, it was Jagger Joshua who scored on the backhand from a tough angle just under three minutes in. It was a goal that Soulière would like to have had back. For Joshua, it was his first point of the season.
There’s more where that came from. Minutes later, Michigan State’s Gianluca Esteves stepped over the blue line to fire a shot from distance past the blocker side. The chance was from quite the distance without any traffic in front. It ended up being another goal that Penn State would rue giving up.
While Penn State struggled to keep the puck out of its own net, Michigan State’s Drew DeRidder was outstanding. The Nittany Lions pestered DeRidder all night long, tallying 37 shots in the contest. But DeRidder, who has one of the best save percentages in the country, shut down the Penn State offense for most of the series. Penn State scored just twice in the series altogether.
Despite the loss, Penn State once again looked phenomenal on the power play. The Nittany Lions didn’t score on the five-minute major they were awarded, but they moved the puck beautifully and even rang a shot off the post. Later, on a different power play, captain Alex Limoges added to his team-leading goals total after he found the back of the net on a tic-tac-toe passing play.
Limoges now has six goals and 10 points on the season to lead the Nittany Lions. Graduate transfer Tim Doherty added an assist on the goal, as did sophomore Connor MacEachern.
When Penn State stepped onto the ice for the third period, it was clear there was a new sense of urgency trailing by two goals. Remarkably, Penn State earned the first 13 shots of the third period with sustained offensive zone time. But DeRidder did what he does best and turned everything aside. In front of him, the Spartans made smart decisions. They didn’t have any defensive mistakes and blocked a number of good looks on goal.
The Nittany Lions will need to find an answer in goal and find it quickly, as neither Soulière nor junior Oskar Autio have been as reliable as former longtime netminder and 2020 graduate Peyton Jones. Giving up over four goals per game isn’t sustainable, and it could end up costing Penn State games in the second phase of the season.
Penn State will travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State next. The Buckeyes have had a brutal start to their season with a record of 3-6-1. The two-game series will be held Jan. 8-9.
Kyle Cannillo is a broadcast journalism major at Penn State. To contact him, please email email@example.com.