After a start that saw a disallowed goal followed by the sound of several Princeton shots hitting its posts, the Penn State offense struggled to sustain pressure against its opposition.
The Nittany Lion scoring chances often came on individual rushes and powerplays. They were rarely the product of a synchronized rush up the ice.
“We had to use our strength and bully around their defense to get the chances, because crisp chances weren’t there,” Penn State leading scorer Shannon Yoxheimer said.
The physicality required to even get a shot off was evident throughout the contest. Several scuffles in front of the net and even more jostling for position along the boards gave the game a gritty feel.
But, the lack of chances was a testament to Princeton’s organized defensive coverage.
“We knew coming into the game that they were going to be disciplined in the defensive zone,” Penn State coach Josh Brandwene said.
Of the Lions’ 19 total shots on goal, 10 came while on the power play. In the middle frame, Princeton came out flying, firing 11 shots toward goaltender Nicole Paniccia before Penn State could manage any. The Tigers would finish the game with a total of 30 shots.
The team’s play on the man advantage was a bright spot in a game that Yoxheimer said was “not our night.”
While it failed to find the back of the net, the team’s power play unit did accumulate 5 shots on each of its two opportunities.
“We had good puck movement [on the power play] and did the things we worked on in practice,” Brandwene said.
With a team roster that lists 17 freshmen, every aspect of Brandwene’s “process” — offense included — is a learning experience.
Come playoff time, Brandwene hopes some of the chances “fall” Penn State’s way. But until then, it will be a work in progress.
“We want to continue to get better at sustaining pressure. We had stretches where we generated some good offense, and that’s something we’re continuing to work on,” Brandwene said.