The 2015-2016 Badger’s men’s hockey team play for the last time at the Kohl Center this weekend against Big Ten ranked #3 Penn State.

The Badgers are coming off a loss and tie on the road against Ohio State last weekend.

“I thought we did a lot of good things,” Head Coach Mike Eaves said of last weekend’s series. “But we’re not doing good enough things when we don’t have the puck to make a difference in the game. We’re scoring five, but we need one more blocked shot, that one less turnover, that next zone mentality in some cases.”

The last meeting between the Badgers and the Penn State Nittany Lions in early January resulted in the Nittany Lions sweeping the Badgers, 3-4 and 1-4. One of the biggest problems the Badgers faced in the series was playing sensibly.

“I love the fight in this team,” Eaves said of the Friday night loss in Pennsylvania. “But when you play hard, you also have to play smart, and we hurt ourselves a couple of times in the third and in overtime.”

Eaves also praised the offensive playing ability of Penn State in their last matchup.

“They get the puck at the goalie’s feet, and they just kind of all gather there and see if they can whack something in. That’s one of the reasons they have over four goals a game,” Eaves said.

Penn State also boasts effective yet remarkably similar line combinations. In his Monday press conference leading up to this weekend’s games, Eaves discussed Penn State’s line combinations.

“Some of their lines may have a little bit more things you don’t teach,” Eaves said. “But they all play hard, and they play the same way, and they want to get up the ice, and they have good goaltending.”

This weekend’s series marks the last home series for three Wisconsin Badgers seniors, Eddie Wittchow, Adam Miller, and Kevin Schulze, who will be recognized throughout the weekend.

Eaves discussed that though the three have little time remaining with the Badgers, they are focused on these last two series at home against Penn State and on the road against Minnesota.

“They played a lot of games, a lot of minutes, and over the last couple of years, had significant roles for us,” Eaves said of the three players. “In talking with them this past weekend, they understand that their time is slipping by, and we’ve got four more games here that we know of, and 12 more periods that we can continue to get better and grow, and that’s what their focus is right now.”

Adam Miller faced the difficulty of being behind star goalie Joel Rumpel, who currently plays for the San Jose Sharks, and this season behind freshman Matt Jurusik. This season Miller only played in a total of five games.

Eddie Wittchow has seen consistent playing time this season with the Badgers. Last weekend against Ohio State, the defensive combination of Wittchow and sophomore Jake Linhart was praised by assistant head coach Luke Strand.

“Because of Eddie’s size and mobility for a big man, he’s going to have an opportunity to play at the next level at some point,” Eaves said. “I think Eddie’s battle sometimes with us is the fact that he wants to do a little bit too much.”

Of senior Kevin Schulze, Eaves said, “He is one of the fastest guys in college hockey for sure, and if he’s got a chance to play at the next level, it will be primarily because of his skating.”

Already looking to next season, the Badgers currently have a strong group of freshmen players to lead the team into next season. Freshmen Luke Kunin and Seamus Malone rank second and third in point-producers for the Badgers with 26 and 24 points respectively. Freshmen players have also scored 42 percent of goals in the past 30 games.

With key players such as Kunin and Malone and freshman goalie Matt Jurusik returning next year, the 2016-2017 men’s hockey season at the Kohl Center looks to be more successful than this season has been.

The Badgers will host Penn State this Friday and Saturday night at 7 pm at the Kohl Center.

Photo: Penn State Athletics.