Hockey Game Grades: Michigan State
Fourth-ranked Penn State swept division rival Michigan State this weekend, improving their record to 16-2-1 (5-1-0 Big Ten), while the Spartans’ record fell to 4-15-1 (0-6-0 Big Ten).
Starting off the series, Friday’s game went as expected as Penn State led 2-1 at the end of the first period and held off Michigan State to win 5-2.
Saturday’s game however, was much more interesting. Michigan State led 2-1 going into the third period, and looked to be well on their way to giving the Nittany Lions their third loss of the season. Penn State, however, refused to go down without a fight and came from behind in spectacular fashion to win 5-3.
Here are the position grades for the series.
Coach Guy Gadowsky didn’t have too much to worry about in the first game of the series. With his team playing as well as they have been against a struggling Michigan State team, Gadowsky wasn’t under much pressure. He managed to keep his team motivated and intense where some teams would have become too relaxed and given up some easily preventable goals.
Saturday’s game was much more nerve wracking. Possibly due to the easy win the night before, Penn State seemed to forget to bring their A-game to the second game until right at the end.
Before the third period, Gadowsky told his squad to take a note from the Penn State basketball team, who had come from behind against No. 24 Minnesota earlier in the day. The team certainly listened, scoring four goals in the third to push themselves ahead.
Gadowsky has proven yet again that this Nittany Lion squad isn’t out of any game until the clock hits zero.
Penn State’s offense has been huge all year, scoring an average of 4.6 goals per game. This series was no different with the offense putting up five in each game. Penn State also managed to take 46 shots on Friday and 51 on Saturday. Their per-game average on the season is 47.9.
Friday’s game found Nittany Lion goals spread out all over the team as five different players scored and eight players picked up assists, including Erik Autio with two.
In Saturday’s game, three players had multiple-point games. Chase Berger scored twice while both Vince Pedrie and Trevor Hamilton earned two assists.
Berger and Pedrie lead the team in points with four. Berger had three goals and one assist during the series while Pedrie had one goal and three assists.
Berger also broke the program’s fastest back-to-back goals record on Saturday, scoring just nine seconds after Dylan Richard scored to take the lead in the third period.
Even though their competition during this series was some of the least statistically successful so far this season, Penn State proved yet again that they have the depth to succeed against some of the strongest teams in the NCAA.
The Penn State defense stayed true to their level of play throughout the season, only letting in two and three goals respectively in the two game series. Going into the series, Penn State averaged 1.94 goals allowed per game. Even after the series, it is still less than two at 1.99. Penn State allowed Michigan State to shoot the puck only 54 times across both games, only three more than Penn State had on Saturday alone.
Vince Pedrie finished the series with a plus/minus of +6 to lead the team. Erik Autio was close behind with +5.
Peyton Jones minded Penn State’s goal in both games of the series, making 49 total saves while earning both wins.
Saturday’s win gave Jones 14 on the season, breaking the record for most wins in a season formally held by Eamon McAdam, who had 13 for the Nittany Lions last year.
Special Teams: A
Penn State couldn’t quite keep their power play success going this series.
Penn State gave up two power play goals on Michigan State’s eight chances across the series, one in each game.
Penn State’s three power play opportunities didn’t result in any goals on Friday, but the Nittany Lions made up for it on Saturday by scoring both of their power play shots.
Tommy Butler is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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