Hockey Game Grades: Arizona State
The Penn State Nittany Lion hockey team has been on a tear recently, winning eight of their past nine match ups heading into the weekend series with Arizona State. The winning streak continued as the Nittany Lions swept the Sun Devils.
The games were won handily by Penn State as they won each contest by four goals. Here are some game grades from the weekend series.
When a team scores 15 goals in two games, the offense is clicking on all cylinders. That was the offensive production the Nittany Lions had over the weekend as they won the first game 7-4 and the second 8-0.
The first game saw freshman Dennis Smirnov record the fourth hat-trick in program history. The Russian was consistently getting good shots on the net and he was rewarded with a three goal game.
Sophomore Andrew Sturtz also had a good night in the opening game of the series as he scored twice. The dynamic combo of Sturtz and Smirnov in the opener proved too much for the Sun Devils to handle, as they could only muster four goals.
The second game of the series saw eight different Penn State players score a goal, including Smirnov getting his fourth in the series. The variety of players scoring goals gives the Nittany Lions a vaunted attack as Big Ten plays rolls around with numerous different scoring options.
The Penn State power play was pretty effective over the course of the weekend as they scored two goals on 10 power play opportunities over the weekend.
The Penn State defense was phenomenal for most of the weekend, blocking Arizona State’s shots from the perimeter or turning the Sun Devils over in their offensive zone.
The defense for the Nittany Lions was smothering at times as they only allowed 18 shots on Saturday, a number that head coach Guy Gadowsky will be quite happy with. Penn State allowed four goals in on Friday, but the defense was consistently causing pressure for the Sun Devil attack.
The Nittany Lions also did a good job of defending the penalty kill as the Sun Devils did not record a goal on all five of their power play opportunities during the series.
Peyton Jones and Chris Funkey both recorded 18 saves over the weekend, but Jones let in four goals in his game. The goals damper a good night for Jones as he was pretty solid between the pipes keeping goals out of the net.
Funkey had a great performance on Saturday, recording a shutout and not allowing any opportunity for Arizona State to score a goal. The strong performances by the Penn State goaltenders give the Nittany Lions options when Big Ten play rolls around.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky made his line changes at perfect times, giving his players the rest they needed while his players on the ice performed in harmony. His move to switch goaltenders was genius as he understood that he needed more than one as the season progresses.
Gadowsky also got his players to give maximum effort against a team that was clearly overmatched, which bodes well for the future.
The Nittany Lions dominated in their series against the Sun Devils, extending their unbeaten streak to 11 games.
Joe Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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