No. 11 Penn State squared off with No. 16 Wisconsin Friday night in Pegula to begin the last home series of the season. The Badgers rode back-to-back three-goal periods to a 7-4 victory.
How It Happened
The Nittany Lions (20-9-2) went with a towering starting lineup as 6’7 freshman Nikita Pavlychev took the opening faceoff and 6’5 classmate Brett Murray got the start at left wing. Both have been drafted by NHL franchises in the Penguins and Sabres, respectively. Senior alternate captain Ricky DeRosa got the nod at right wing to open his final Pegula home stand.
Santa Barbara, Calif., native Will Johnson struck first for Tony Granato’s Badgers (19-11-1), beating Peyton Jones with 10:50 to go in the first period to make it 1-0 Wisconsin. In classic Andrew Sturtz fashion, the sophomore cleaned up a loose puck in front of freshman goalie Jack Berry for his team-high 20th goal of the season on the ensuing power play.
Aidan Cavallini and Chase Berger got into along the boards behind Wisconsin’s net, notching dual roughing penalties in the process with three minutes left in the period. Fans erupted moments later as a Badger was checked so hard he went tumbling into the Penn State bench. The blue and white owned a 16-6 lead in shots heading into the first intermission.
Cavallini made the stat sheet for a good reason five minutes into the second period, finding sophomore Seamus Malone for the go-ahead goal, 2-1. The referees confirmed the puck barely crossed the line during a brief video review. The Nittany Lions were soon shorthanded as Brandon Biro received a five-minute game misconduct for hitting from behind, but they were able to successfully kill the penalty.
Under full strength with 6:42 to play in the second, Penn State wasn’t as lucky. Jones dove forward to corral a loose puck but it bounced right to junior Jason Ford, who buried a backhander for the 3-1 Badger lead. Nate Sucese injected some life into the Nittany Lions with 2:20 on the clock, rifling a shot past Berry to cut the deficit to 3-2. Sturtz cued the sirens once more less than a minute later to tie things up. Matt Ustaski jumped into the boards in celebration after giving Wisconsin the lead right back 12 seconds before the end of the period, though.
The Badgers rung one off the post three minutes into the third, but wouldn’t take a 5-3 lead on Grant Besse’s ninth goal of the season for another minute or so. Senior center Dylan Richard answered with a huge tally of his own 1:10 later to keep Penn State in it. Ryan Wagner squared up a stickless Kris Myllari before driving home a 6-4 advantage with five minutes left. He also delivered an empty netter to make it 7-4.
Player Of The Game
Ryan Wagner | Junior | Forward
The Park Ridge, Ill., product finished Friday night with two goals and an assist for the Badgers.
The Nittany Lions will host the Badgers again Saturday at 8 p.m. for Senior Night. They swept Wisconsin in Madison earlier this season. Captain David Goodwin and his fellow seniors Dylan Richard, Ricky DeRosa, David Thompson, and Zach Saar will all be honored pregame.