Consistent Goaltending Key For Penn State Men’s Hockey Against No. 5 Minnesota
Penn State men’s hockey faces a tall task against No. 5 Minnesota (19-11, 14-6 Big Ten) this weekend as the Nittany Lions wrap up the last home series of the season.
The Nittany Lions and the Golden Gophers split the season’s first series in Minneapolis, but it will be tougher to accomplish this time around, even on home ice, thanks to Minnesota’s dynamic offense.
The Golden Gophers, have racked up 969 shots on goal this season — 200 fewer than Penn State. The difference, though, is that Minnesota has a higher shooting percentage (0.10) than Penn State (0.08).
With a tough-to-stop offense on tap, Penn State will need great goaltending to beat Minnesota and send the Pegula faithful home happy one last time. That rings especially true in a series like this, as the Gophers have scored more than ten goals this season.
“You’re gonna need good goaltending to win in this league. Sometimes you need a lot more than good goaltending,” Guy Gadowksy said.
It will be important to give both Penn State goaltenders a shot against Minnesota, which would also deny the Gophers the opportunity to learn too much about either one. Gadowsky hinted that both Oskar Autio, who has started most of the season, and Liam Souliere, his understudy who has mostly played well when called upon, would play this weekend.
Both Autio and Souliere have had their ups and downs this season, and each has shown flashes of very good play. Both goaltenders boast a .895 save percentage and have, on average, allowed slightly north of three goals per game. Obviously, those numbers must improve this weekend to give Penn State a real shot.
Despite some up-and-down play, the goaltending tandem’s teammates like what they’ve seen from their goalies.
“Both have improved throughout the year. It’s a good position for Guy, and he knows he can play either guy and is confident that either guy can make the saves they need,” captain Paul DeNaples said.
Forward Adam Pilewicz echoed DeNaples’ confidence.
“It’s huge, and there’s a lot that goes into it. They’re both extremely hard workers. We have all the confidence in Souliere and all the confidence in Autio as well,” Pilewicz said.
Having reliable, hard-working athletes in goal can do a lot for a hockey team on the ice. Gadowsky, though, thinks it’s got an even bigger effect on him.
“It helps you sleep better,” Gadowsky said.
Penn State hosts Minnesota at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, February 18, and 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 19.
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