Series Grades: Penn State vs. Wisconsin

Story posted November 25, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Jacob Cheris

The No. 15 Penn State Nittany Lions were swept by the No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers in a lopsided series.

Penn State drops to 0-4 on the season and Wisconsin moves to 4-2. Even though the Badgers were without two of their star centers, Dylan Holloway and Ty Pelton-Byce, Penn State was not able to get a win.

Here are the series grades for this week.

Offense: B-

Penn State’s offense looked much better in Game 1 compared to the last series against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Nittany Lions outshot the Badgers 52-20 in Game 1, 20-7 in the first period, however it started to fall apart in Game 2.

Aside from the whitewashes in both games, Kevin Wall has been phenomenal. The sophomore has four points (3 goals, 1 assist) in his last four games.

Wall was also fantastic on the forecheck, creating multiple Badger turnovers in the defensive zone, leading to high-danger scoring chances. He’s becoming a very good two-way player, but he has been the only offensive threat for Penn State.

The top line of Alex Limoges, Tim Doherty and Sam Sternschein still haven't found any consistency.

Limoges finally got his first goal of the season in Game 2, along with Doherty in Game 1. But a major concern for Penn State is that Aarne Talvitie has been struggling. He had two penalties on Tuesday and only has one assist.

Defense: D

Penn State’s defense could not contain Wisconsin’s star players.

Cole Caufield, last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year, had a hat trick in Game 2. He was scoreless in his last four games.

There was a lot of miscommunication between the defenses units when retrieving pucks in the defensive zone, which is something that needs to be fixed as soon as possible. Sometimes two defensemen were going after the puck and this left a lot of Wisconsin players wide open.

The problem was that Wisconsin always had players moving in the offensive zone, and the defense of Penn State isn’t known for its speed. Penn State has to focus more on playing better defense because of the amount of offensive firepower it lost last season.

Goaltending: C

Even with the multiple defensive breakdowns and turnovers that Penn State had, both Oskar Autio and Liam Souliére could not bail them out. Both goaltenders looked uncomfortable in net.

Movements from post-to-post weren’t crisp and they weren’t very aggressive coming out of the net to face shots. Rebound control was one area that both of them struggled tremendously. Dominick Mersch’s goal, the second in Game 2, was off of a soft rebound given up by Souliére.

However, Souliére is still getting used to playing at collegiate level and Autio is still adjusting to becoming a number one goaltender. They aren’t going to play like Peyton Jones, but goaltending is starting to become a concern.

Coaching: C+

Guy Gadowsky changed his lines going into this series. Lots of freshmen made their Penn State debuts and scored goals, but it wasn’t enough to get Penn State a win.

Special teams have been a nightmare for the Nittany Lions so far. The Nittany Lions power play was 1 for 8 in this series. The penalty kill didn’t fare any better letting in two power-play goals.

Penn State also struggled to hold onto any momentum. They scored first in Game 1, but a minute later Wisconsin responded to tie it. When Limoges scored to bring the deficit to two, Penn State gave up a short-handed goal.

Although, Gadowsky did a good job of telling his squad to keep playing until the final horn. Even when all seemed lost in Game 2 being down 6-1, Penn State scored two quick goals to bring the score to 6-3.

Penn State has a tough opponent ahead of them in the undefeated Michigan Wolverines. Michigan has the best class of 2020 in the nation and it’s going to be tough for Penn State to get a win in this series.

 

Jacob Cheris is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jacobcheris19@gmail.com.