This weekend, the Wisconsin Badgers split a series with Penn State, winning 7-4 and getting shut out 6-0.
Game 1: Wisconsin 7, Penn State 4
The Badgers opened up their series against Penn State with an exciting, high-scoring game. Six players contributed seven goals, as the Badgers downed the Nittany Lions 7-4, after dropping back to back games to PSU three weeks ago.
Will Johnson opened the scoring for Wisconsin around the nine minute mark, but it was a lopsided period in Penn State’s favor. The Nittany Lions registered 16 shots on goal, including the game-tying goal three minutes after Johnson’s tally.
“The first period, they kind of picked us apart,” head coach Tony Granato told uwbadgers.com. “We didn’t skate real well and they came out real well but we were able to survive that. Berry made some really big saves for us.”
The Badgers took control through the first 13 minutes of the second period. Seamus Malone scored his tenth of the year, followed by Jason Ford’s rebound jam from Jake Linhart. But once again Penn State fought back: Nate Sucese and Andrew Sturtz scored within one minute of each other to tie the game and swing momentum back in their favor. It was only when Matt Ustaski scored on a three-on-one with 12 seconds to go in the period that the Badgers took control for the rest of the game.
Grant Besse scored four minutes into the third period, followed by one final Penn State tally a minute later. After that, the Badgers locked down defensively before Ryan Wagner scored two insurance goals to seal the victory.
“I thought we played really smart with the puck as the game went on,” Granato told the media after Friday’s win. “When you’re on the road and you have a lead, with especially how dynamic they are offensively, that was a heck of a period for us not giving up many chances.”
That win along with Minnesota’s loss put the teams back tied for the Big Ten lead.
The second night was not as successful for the Badgers. The Nittany Lions scored a total of six goals and held the Badgers off the board completely.
The Wisconsin offense fired 36 shots at the net, but goalie Peyton Jones was up to the task, saving every last shot.
“I think their goalie made big saves when we had chances to get back in the game,” Granato told uwbadgers.com. “We had plenty of chances around their net, obviously, we would have liked to start better but they came at us pretty good and deserved to win.”
David Goodwin scored twice and added two assist for the Nittany Lions and was a +3, a night after being -3.
One of Goodwin’s goals came in the third period, a period in which Penn State scored three goals.
“We tried to open up more offensively as the game went on and that led to more mistakes defensively,” Granato told the media after the game. “We didn’t make the most of our chances… and in the third we tried to open it up more and it led to their goals.”
The Badgers are now one win, and three points, behind Minnesota in the Big Ten standings. They face a tough Ohio State team at home next weekend in their final regular season series. The Badgers can finish no worse than third in the Big Ten, and hold hopes of making it back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014.