Hockey Game Grades: Penn State vs. Niagara

Story posted November 7, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Alissa Devine

This past Friday, the Penn State men’s hockey team travelled to Niagara to play a struggling opponent in Dwyer Arena. For the second time in the past two weekends, the Nittany Lions faced a goaltender making their first collegiate start. Again, the Lions couldn’t get pucks past Joe Obrien, despite outshooting the Purple Eagles by almost double. The Lions tied against the Eagles this weekend with a 1-1 score.

Offense: B

The Lions again were able to create quality chances around the Purple Eagle’s net and outshot their opponent 40-22, however they were still not able to find the back of the net. The Nittany Lions forced freshman Joe O’Brien to make 39 saves, but he stood tall as he only allowed one power play goal. The Lions came out strong to begin the first period with a 14-5 edge in shots over the Eagles, but Niagara would find the back of the net first. Niagara, looking for their first win of the season, were three minutes away from doing so until Dylan Richard’s goal on the power play forced overtime.

Defense: B

The Nittany Lion’s defense matched their season best in goals allowed, only allowing one puck through for the whole game. The defense only held Niagara to 22 shots on net through three full periods on the night, but the Lions defense was still unable to hold the Eagles off the board. The unit definitely did a better job this past Friday than in their last weekend series against St. Lawrence, but there is still room for growth. With a lack in size for this Nittany Lion’s defense, they still struggle when their opponent puts pressure on them in the defensive zone.

Goaltending: B+

Matthew Skoff picked up his second tie of the season Purple Eagles. He made 21 saves in the game, which included 10 in the second period alone. Skoff is 1-1-2 for this season. The only goal scored by Niagara occurred when Skoff was caught trying to get back in front of the net after he was pulled out of position, creating a wide-open cage. Skoff needs to continue to prove himself as head coach Guy Gadowsky continues to switch between Skoff and Eamon McAdam each game.

Coaching: B+

Guy Gadowsky continues to engrave in his players minds to shoot the puck whenever an opportunity arises. This strategy usually works for the Lions offense, allowing them to tally more shots on net than their opponents in most cases. The Lions need to continue with this strategy and Gadowsky is doing a great job of coaching this Lion’s offense. Even though Penn State was only able to get one puck through O’Brian this past Friday, the Lions are doing a great job of creating offensive chances and getting as many pucks on net as possible. However, Gadowsky needs to work more on the defensive end for this team and get that unit shored up.

Power Play: C-

The Lions power play, which is usually more successful, could have been better this past Friday. The power play is usually a way for the Lions to jumpstart their offense and turn a game around. However, the Nittany Lions were only able to capitalize once on five chances. The power play improved from last weekend’s series, but special teams is a key area that can determine games. Penn State has a lot of skill on their offense and needs to create more opportunities on their power play than they have in the past two weekends.

Penalty Kill: B

The Nittany Lions defense held Niagara to only one power play goal on four chances. They didn’t allow a lot of offensive chances for the Purple Eagles and held them to minimal shooting opportunities. Penn State also did a great job of blocking shots, not giving Niagara much room for offensive opportunities on their power play.

Alissa Devine is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email amd6170@psu.edu.