Know Your Enemy: No. 13 Penn State Hockey Goes For Sweep Over No. 6 Ohio State
Last night, Penn State men’s hockey snapped No. 6 Ohio State’s six-game winning streak with a 5-2 victory at Pegula Ice Arena. Denis Smirnov, Nate Sucese, Evan Barratt, and Andrew Sturtz scored for the Nittany Lions and Peyton Jones made 45 saves and was named the game’s first star.
Tonight, the two teams will face off again in a game that starts at 7 p.m. Can Penn State cap off the sweep or will Ohio State exact its revenge in front of a whited-out Roar Zone?
Adjustments: Penn State
Penn State was outshot by its opposition for just the third time this season. The Buckeyes fired 47 shots on Peyton Jones’ net, but unfortunately for them, Jones stood on his head behind of a strong defensive effort from the entire team, which combined to block 23 shots.
As great as Jones was, the Nittany Lions’ defense needs to tighten up and make sure that he doesn’t see 47 shots again on Saturday. Ohio State star Tanner Laczynski fired eight shots on goal, and a player as good as Laczynski would score at least once – if not two or three times – if given eight shots on any other night.
Penn State also needs to stay out of the penalty box. Both of Ohio State’s goals came via the power play, but the penalties that didn’t result in goals killed any momentum Penn State was building. It can be hard to stay disciplined in rivalry games like this, but the Nittany Lions will have to keep their cool in order to pick up a sweep.
Adjustments: Ohio State
Ohio State played about as well as a team that lost 5-2 could have played. Offensively, 47 shots on goal is more than enough to win plenty of hockey games. The only change the Buckeyes need to make on offense is simple: they need to find a way to beat Peyton Jones, who did not allow a goal in 5-on-5 play.
However, the Buckeyes’ defense and goaltending did not appear to be on the same page. Penn State’s offense was clinical throughout the game, finishing chances in a variety of ways. Nate Sucese’s goal came via a 2-on-1 rush and Andrew Sturtz was given way too much time and space in the slot prior to his dagger late in the third period.
Like Penn State, Ohio State needs to stay out of the penalty box, but the Buckeyes also need to find a way to block shots. They blocked just four shots all evening compared to Penn State’s 23 – they could have certainly used a block on both of the point shots that led to Penn State’s two power play goals.
Stat Of The Day
Ohio State goaltender Sean Romeo entered Friday’s game with a 1.94 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage, ranking second in the conference. In three games against Penn State, Romeo is now 0-2-1 with a 4.67 goals-against average and an .857 save percentage.
Ohio State is going to come out with a point to prove tonight, but I think Penn State will make the necessary adjustments on defense to complete the sweep and take a four-point lead for second in the Big Ten standings.