Hockey Game Grades: Penn State in B1G Tournament
On Thursday night, Penn State shut down the Wisconsin Badgers 5-2 in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament to advance to the semi finals. However, the usual trend of Michigan’s top line dominating the Nittany Lions continued as Penn State fell short to the Wolverines once again. Michigan topped the Lions 7-2 on Friday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, bringing Penn State’s season to an end. Here are the Big Ten Tournament Game Grades:
On Thursday night, Penn State’s offense found the back of the net, as most expected against the Badgers. The Nittany Lions scored a total of five goals and capitalized on offensive chances in Wisconsin’s zone. Eric Scheid scored two goals on the night, adding to his dominant performance offensively this season and moving him up in the point’s column to 28. Luke Juha played phenomenal both nights, racking up a career high three assists on Thursday night and adding a goal on Friday night. Despite offensive success against Wisconsin, it was a different story against the Wolverines. Penn State only scored two goals Friday night and couldn’t produce with 42 shots on goal. The Lions simply couldn’t finish and had no answers for Michigan’s top line.
Penn State’s defense on Thursday night was a definite factor for their win over the Badgers. Coach Guy Gadowsky has emphasized all season getting the defenseman actively involved. When the defense follows this approach they are successful and proved to be again against Wisconsin. Kevin Kerr, Luke Juha, and Connor Varley all found themselves on the score sheet. Juha’s stellar play and forechecking skill unfortunately wasn’t enough to stop Kyle Conner and the Michigan Wolverines. Conner came out guns blazing, especially in the second period, scoring a natural hat trick. Penn State did a better job staying in position to start the game, but the Wolverine speed proved to be too much in the second and third periods. A defense that came up big against the Badgers when they needed it the most, unfortunately couldn’t reciprocate the following night.
Eamon McAdam got the start again despite being pulled in three previous games and struggling as of late. McAdam, however, looked to be the goaltender nominated for the Mike Richter Award against Wisconsin and stopped 35 pucks from finding the back of the net. For a goalie that has had such a successful season for the Nittany Lions has struggled immensely against the fast skating Michigan offense, which is no surprise. After having another respectable game against the Wisconsin Badgers, McAdam found himself being pulled for his fourth time in five games following Conner’s second goal of the game. Matthew Skoff came in relief and wasn’t much better in net against Michigan’s top line. With just three and half minutes of entering the game, Conner finished off his natural hat trick. McAdam and Skoff’s play against the Michigan Wolverines is no indication of their successful season for the Nittany Lions.
Special Teams: C-
Special teams had no real impact on Penn State’s play versus the Wisconsin Badgers, but was certainly a factor in Penn State’s loss against the Michigan Wolverines. The Nittany Lions had two power play goals of their own, capitalizing twice on six Michigan penalties. However, Penn State took six penalties of their own and allowed Michigan to capture three power play goals. For a team as fast and powerful as Michigan, Penn State needed to reduce their penalties to have any chance of upsetting the Number six-ranked team.
After Penn State’s victory over Wisconsin, Gadowsky said he expected a different team to show up against Michigan than the team that had been outscored by an 11-goal margin in their last series. Despite Gadowsky’s expectations, the trend continued in the semi-final round of the Big Ten Tournament, and Michigan had another 7-goal night against the Nittany Lions. For a team that came out hot out of the gates, Penn State has been slow down the stretch and when play matters the most. You can’t put all the blame on Gadowsky and you can’t expect a stellar performance against a team like Michigan, but it’s upsetting to see how Penn State’s fire burnt out a little bit to end their season.
Alissa Devine is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Sophomore / Broadcast Journalism
Alissa Devine is a senior from Fairfield, New Jersey, majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor is business liberal arts. She is involved with play by play and beat writing for several Penn State sports, especially hockey. She is also a member of the talk show, The Sin Bin for Com Radio. Alissa’s love for sports and hockey has driven her to pursue a career in sports broadcasting.