A loss was inevitable, but it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
But it wasn’t a strictly negative experience for Penn State, either.
“We weren’t really sticking to our identity for the full 60 minutes. Win or lose that game, throughout the weekend, that was the big message. We’re going to have to fix it either way,” captain Chase Berger said after Saturday’s loss to Arizona State. “The loss sucks, but it’s a long season. At the end of the day, if we learn from this loss, that’s all that matters.”
Rather than dwell on their first loss of the season to the Sun Devils, the Nittany Lions will look to get back on the winning track in this weekend’s home-and-home series against Robert Morris.
That process will start with correcting the errors of the Nittany Lions’ performance against the Sun Devils.
Above all else, the Nittany Lions will need to put together a complete 60 minute effort. In both games against the Sun Devils, the Nittany Lions struggled through the first two periods before turning it around completely and dominating the Sun Devils in the third period.
Penn State outscored Arizona State 5-1 and outshot the Sun Devils 30-13 in the third period.
Gadowsky knows it won’t be an overnight fix to the issue.
“This isn’t something where you turn the switch on and you’re consistent,” he said Monday. “It’s an ongoing challenge that I think every team really works with. It’s very, very difficult.”
The issue was certainly the key talking point for Gadowsky when addressing his team over the weekend and early into the week. He knows there’s only so much he can say before leaving it up to his players to execute.
“Anybody can say anything. It’s a matter of how well it’s received and what happens when the coaches leave the room,” he said.
Scouting Robert Morris
Home-and-home series aren’t uncommon in college hockey, but they’re a rare sight in Hockey Valley.
Last season marked the first such series for the Nittany Lions, as they swept Robert Morris in early December. Despite the inexperience with the home-and-home, Gadowsky isn’t worried about how the team will respond to the travel in between games.
“A lot of the guys that come from junior hockey are very used to that,” he argued. “You end up playing, sometimes, three games in three days in three different places. So I don’t think it’s a challenge that way.”
Any challenge the Nittany Lions face will come directly from their opponent. The weekend will mark the ninth and 10th all-time contests between the Nittany Lions and Colonials. Both teams have claimed four wins in the all-time series.
Gadowsky expects this weekend to follow the trend.
“I think Robert Morris looks forward to this. They will be intense games,” he said.
The Colonials have had a rocky start to the season, going 3-4-1 and alternating wins and losses in their past five games. The Colonials sit in the middle of the pack in goals against, but are near the bottom of the NCAA in goals scored.
Freshman Nick Lalonde leads the Colonials with three goals in eight games, while senior Alex Tonge tops the chart with four assists and six points.
In goal, junior Francis Marotte has started all eight games this season but has been pulled twice in losses to Bowling Green and Army. Marotte has posted a 2.67 goals-against average and .908 save percentage.
While both teams have solid penalty kills, the Nittany Lions hold a clear edge with the man advantage. While the Colonials are scoring at a 13 percent clip on the power play, the Nittany Lions are scoring on nearly 20 percent of their power play chances.