By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After splitting its fourth weekend series in a row, Penn State men's hockey is moving forward, using a productive weekend series against Michigan as a boost in confidence.
Following a thrilling overtime goal by sophomore forward Blake Gober to clinch a win in Friday night's Big Ten home opener, the Nittany Lions fell short in game two. Head coach Guy Gadowsky was far from disappointed with his team though, noting the Nittany Lions played their best two games of the season.
"It was actually the first night [Friday night], win or lose, I was really, really happy, honestly," Gadowsky said. "Even if we lost in overtime, I would have been really happy, we definitely got back to our roots."
For the Nittany Lions, part of getting back to their roots means shooting the puck.
Penn State racked up 98 total shots on goal throughout the series, holding a 54-35 advantage against Michigan in game one. The shot total marked the first time the Nittany Lions have registered more than 50 shots since putting 63 shots on goal against Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.
"I think you really have to get a team philosophy and a team concept that sticks to everyone and that is difficult," Gadowsky said. "We're extremely confident in what we do and how we do it."
As Penn State will certainly work toward building its shot production, if there's anything last weekend's series shows, it's clear the Nittany Lions are headed in the right direction.
"I don't think it's the number so much as the mentality," junior captain Chase Berger said. "We've seen if we shoot the puck a lot we can score, it works."
Although the outcome wasn't as pleasing from Friday to Saturday,, Gadowsky was still satisfied with the overall performance he saw on the ice.
"If we play that way, we're going to win a lot more games than we lose," Gadowsky said. "It was exciting to see, and a relief."
on the Blue Line
Gadowsky has noted since media day, that solidifying the Nittany Lion defense would be a top priority.. While the defensive unit as a whole is still looking to hit their stride, a few new pairings are showing some promise.
Freshman Cole Hults and senior captain Erik
Autio skated together this weekend, while Gadowsky tried out the pairing of
sophomore Kris Myllari and senior Trevor Hamilton, as well as sophomore James
Gobetz and junior Derian Hamilton.
"We haven't fully made up our mind yet but I'm leaning toward keeping things the same," Gadowsky said.Hults has been especially effective in his rookie season, registering a first period assist in game one and a third period assist the following night to continuing his six game point streak.