Series Grades: Penn State vs. Michigan

Story posted December 6, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Alex Rocco

The Penn State Nittany Lions took on the No. 7 Michigan Wolverines on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Nittany Lions came away with a series split.

In Game 1, the Wolverines came away with a 3-1 victory despite being outshot 38-28.

In Game 2, the Nittany Lions’ offense exploded with nine goals in a 9-5 win.

Let’s review this series by handing out some game grades to each Penn State unit.

Offense: A+

The Nittany Lions had 72 shots in two games en route to scoring 10 goals on a Michigan team that had only given up nine total goals in its first six games. The offense was led by New Jersey Devils prospect Aarne Talvitie, who had two goals and an assist.

This series saw three freshmen step up big time. Forward Chase McLane, forward Jared Westcott and defenseman Jimmy Dowd Jr. all tallied their first collegiate goal. McLane, a Nashville Predators draft pick, would also tack on an assist. Westcott would have two helpers in this series, and Dowd had one as well.

Both Kevin Wall and Alex Limoges would continue their hot start to the season, as Wall had two assists, giving him six points in six games, while Limoges had a goal and an assist, giving him five points on the young season.

Overall, the offense was firing on all cylinders in this series. Anytime you can get 10 goals in just two games, you’re doing something right.

Defense: C+

The Penn State defense had a huge task in stopping a highly powered Wolverines offense. The Wolverines have many NHL-ready prospects, including Cam York, Brendan Brisson and Johnny Beecher. They also have a trio of freshmen, Owen Power, Kent Johnson and Matty Beniers, who are being projected as early first-round picks in the upcoming draft.

As such, it’s not much of a surprise that the defense allowed eight goals in this series. It was a balanced attack for the Michigan offense, as the Wolverines had five different scorers.

The defense had some breakdowns in its zone, so if the Nittany Lions want to come away with more wins, they have to clean up their play on defense.

Goaltending: C

Goaltender Oskar Autio started both games for the Nittany Lions, and in Game 1, he played extremely well. He gave up just two goals on 28 shots and really shut down a high-powered Michigan offense. He made some huge saves to keep the game close.

In Game 2, however, it was a different story, as Autio struggled. He allowed five goals on 23 shots. Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, the offense picked up the workload in place of its goaltender and helped the team get its first win.

Coaching: B+

The Penn State power play was electric this series, converting on four of eight chances. In Game 2, the Nittany Lions tallied three power-play goals in just the second period alone. 

The penalty kill was decent, as the Nittany Lions allowed two goals on five chances for the Wolverines, but they have to be better if Penn State wants to win more games.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky had his guys prepared for this series, as the Nittany Lions played very well against one of the top teams in the country. They battled extremely hard in Game 1, keeping it very close.

In Game 2, with the team being tied at two after the first frame, Gadowsky must have really fired up his team, as it scored five goals in the second period.

The Nittany Lions wrap up phase one of their season next week against Arizona State.

 

Alex Rocco is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email afr5646@psu.edu.