Series Grades: Penn State vs. North Dakota

Story posted October 31, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Logan Bourandas

While it may have only been one game, it was an early contender for Penn State’s game of the year.

In front of just under 15 thousand strong at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, the blue and white accomplished the unthinkable by pulling off the 6-4 upset win over No. 6 North Dakota.

Let’s see how each position group played during the Nittany Lions win which moved them up to 6-1 on the young season.

Offense: A+

Scoring six goals in one hockey game is great, but to do it against one of the top teams in the country is even better.

Despite the Fighting Hawks having already played ranked opponents such as Quinnipiac and Bemidji State, six goals is the most they’ve allowed in a game this season so far.

The Nittany Lions were excellent on the power play as they scored three goals on their four opportunities with the man advantage.

While Kevin Wall was held silent in the goal department, players such as Connor MacEachern were able to stay hot as he tallied his third and fourth goal on the season.

Clayton Phillips was also able to score two goals in the win as the defensemen brought his season total up to three.

All around there was nothing to complain about hockey-wise on Saturday for Penn State as this was one of its best performances of the season against one of the top programs in the country.

Defense: C+

Despite the great game, it’s tough to move that defense into the “B” category after the Fighting Hawks put up four goals.

With the Nittany Lions taking the lead early, North Dakota was forced to play more aggressively early as they tried to claw their way back into the game.

One positive take away from the defensive side was that only one Fighting Hawks goal was scored at full strength.

North Dakota scored three of its goals on the power play with the one even-strength goal coming during the third period.

Defensively, the Nittany Lions held strong and at the end of the day, that’s all they needed to do.

Goaltending: B

This one is very similar to the defensive side.

While Oskar Autio did give up four goals in the win, three of them came on the penalty kill as he was almost perfect at even strength.

Autio made 28 saves on the night and kept getting better as the game went along. The number of saves he made each period kept going up as it went from 5 in the first to 10 in the second to 13 in the third.

The senior goaltender outdueled one of the better goaltenders in the country in Zach Driscoll on the other side for North Dakota and that’s always gonna lead to a good grade.

Coaching: B+

Despite recording the win, it wasn’t exactly the cleanest in terms of staying out of the box.

The Nittany Lions were penalized five times during the game and that led to three power-play goals from North Dakota which nearly got them back into the game.

That being said, the Nittany Lions were also able to draw the Fighting Hawks into penalties of their own and were able to convert on the power play three times as well.

Head coach Guy Gadowski had the Nittany Lions ready to play on Saturday and that showed on the scoreboard.

Logan Bourandas is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email lxb5412@psu.edu.