Scoring is something Penn State has never had to worry about. Like clockwork, the Nittany Lions rank at the top of goals and shots per game year in and year out. Over the past month, however, goals haven’t been easy to come by.
The goals, not so much.
In that span, the Nittany Lions are producing just over two goals per game, tied for 45th in the nation.
Some of that may just be puck luck, one of coach Guy Gadowsky’s preferred phrases. Much of it may have to do with Penn State’s reputation and an altered mindset from opponents making the trip to Hockey Valley.
“Three years ago, people were coming in here going, ‘It’s point night,’” Gadowsky said. “‘We’re going to score six, seven goals and have players’ weekends.’ Now I think people are coming in here thinking a different thing.”
Opponents have become aware they aren’t going to win the type of game Penn State wants to play. When the game is wide open, the Nittany Lions’ offense will click better than their opponents. Instead, opponents gear up for the Nittany Lions wanting to slow the game down and limit Penn State’s scoring chances, even if it means their own scoring chances are limited.
Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, the offensive funk hasn’t impacted their overall success. In a twist of fate, Penn State has become comfortable — or, at least, more successful — winning low-scoring games.
While that’s more by circumstance than design, Gadowsky has been pleased that the team has grown more comfortable on the defensive side of the puck.
“That’s why we put in the work,” he said. “I hope the team feels good about the work they’ve done because it is showing up in those results.”
Scouting The Pioneers
Following their Oct. 25 meeting with the Nittany Lions, the Pioneers reeled consecutive sweeps over Canisius and Bently. Since then, the Pioneers have gone winless in seven straight games.
The Nittany Lions’ recent scoring slump pales in comparison to the Colonials’ during that seven-game stretch. They have been shut out three times in that stretch and are averaging less than a goal per game.
Keeping the puck out of their own net hasn’t been an issue for the Colonials this season. Goaltender Justin Kapelmaster ranks third in the nation in save percentage. The Ferris State transfer started each game for the Colonials up to their most recent series against Army.
In his place, Dylan Lubbesmeyer has also posted strong numbers with a 2.30 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.