Game Grades: Penn State vs. St. Lawrence
This weekend, the Nittany Lions had the chance to declare themselves as one of the top 20 teams in the country, hosting the 16th ranked St. Lawrence Skating Saints. The Lions lost and tied in their two games series, showing that they can contend with a top team, but may not be a top team themselves. The Lions tied the first game 2-2, which went to an exhibition shootout which St. Lawrence won, and lost the second 4-2 thanks to two third period Saint goals.
The Lions were able to tally 92 shots compared to St. Lawrence’s 65. Penn State had some great opportunities, but weren’t always able to capitalize. The Skating Saints hadn’t allowed more than 32 shots in a game, so the Lions proved that they can put the puck on net against a good team. The most interesting goal came just five minutes into the first game. Alec Marsh appeared to backhand a shot off the cross-bar in the back of the net, but it was waved off as no goal. Moments later, as play continued, Penn State struck from the blue line. After review, the original Marsh goal was counted, bringing play all the way back to the time of the initial goal. In the shootout, the Nittany Lions couldn’t crack backup goaltender Arthur Brey.
Penn State faired well against the high-powered Skating Saints offense. In the first game, the Nittany Lions held St. Lawrence to only 26 shots, their second lowest shot total of the season. In the second game, though, they allowed 39 shots. There is certainly great room for growth for this Penn State defense and they’ll have to start by stopping long cross-ice passes. Next, they’ll need to find a way to clear their defensive zone and fight off strong forechecks. When Penn State is able to leave their zone quickly, they have proved to be a potent offense as they showed in their second matchup against Notre Dame. When teams are able to pressure them in the defensive zone, the Lions aren’t able to get their offense started.
Power Play: F
The Lions were given 15 power play opportunities, including two in the last 2:43 of overtime in game one, but were only able to cash in on one of those power plays. The power play unit that just last week led the nation clearly has room for improvement. It certainly could have been a different outcome if the special teams unit played up to their potential.
Penalty Kill: B+
The Penn State penalty kill was very effective, allowing only one goal in eight opportunities over the two game stretch. They allowed minimal shots for the Skating Saints and did a great job of deflecting and blocking shots. The Lions also put together a few great shorthanded opportunities, but weren’t able to score. If the Lions can maintain this play on the penalty kill, they should be in good hands throughout the rest of the season.
Brandon Pelter is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism and finance. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.