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Penn State Hockey: Jones Playing His Best and the Nittany Lions Are Reaping the Benefits

by on January 15, 2020 3:40 PM

As Penn State hockey skates into the thick of Big Ten play with a 16-6 record and No. 6 national ranking, the Nittany Lions have a card in their back pocket.

Goalie Peyton Jones.

To be certain Jones is hardly a new face, the main staple in goal for Penn State hockey the past several seasons, Jones is as responsible as anyone for the Nittany Lions' Big Ten Tournament title and NCAA Tournament appearances. Heading into the year Jones had made 2,809 career saves and 103 career appearances, both second best in the nation among returning players. His 58 wins, the most among active goalies .

But even he might be among the first to admit that there are games he would like to have back. It happens to every goalie, but the best ones are able to put a lot of time between those off nights. It's an average level of consistency that makes the best goalies shine in the biggest moments.

In 2019-20 Jones has found that consistency, a .926 save percentage is the best of his Penn State career, and that a small drop to .922 in Big Ten play is backed up by a 2.6 goals against average, just over a goal less per game.

"It has been a good year. I'm happy with outcome," Jones said earlier this week. "I mean, obviously, we haven't you know, won anything yet or done anything yet, but I mean, from personal standpoint, definitely, you know, happy with what I did so far. Just trying to work to be just as good if not better or better."

Peyton Jones Big Ten Seasons:

  • 2019-20: .922 SV/2.6 GAA
  • 2018-19: .891 SV/3.63 GAA
  • 2017-18: .910 SV/2.77 GAA
  • 2016-17: .895 SV/2.83 GAA

"I put in a lot of work this summer," Jones added. "Working on my foundation and finding my strengths in my game and using those to my advantage so I think that just comes down to like you know using what I'm best at to make saves. Using my assets and what I was given."

Of course Jones' slight resurgence has a lot to do with his own work and play, but its also a byproduct of the Nittany Lions' recommitment to the defensive end of the ice. Penn State has been a significantly improved team defensively, giving Jones a lot more help than in year's past. The rest has put the Nittany Lions atop the Big Ten standings with a legitimate shot at the program's first regular season conference title.

And with that comes pressure, fortunately for Penn State, that's Jones' favorite part of the job.

"The pressure," Jones said with a smile when asked what he enjoys the most. "I gotta make saves and you know I can change the momentum and I can make some big saves that keep us in it to get a win. So I think that I just like the pressure, like all eyes on me and you know, that kind of thing. Being the most loved player in the stadium or you can leave with everyone hating you and I've left both ways, definitely like being on the good side of it."

The good news for Jones and Penn State, the pressure will only crank up from here.

But so will the rewards.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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