No. 14 Penn State Hockey Drops Game One Of Series With No. 18 Wisconsin
No. 14 Penn State men’s hockey (13-11-3, 6-8-3 Big Ten) lost 4-2 against No. 18 Wisconsin in game one of this weekend’s crucial series.
Liam Folkes and Denis Smirnov each scored for the Nittany Lions, but three Wisconsin goals in the third period capped off a comeback win for the Badgers. Peyton Jones made 27 saves for the Nittany Lions.
How It Happened
There are three constants in this world: death, taxes, and Liam Folkes scoring against Wisconsin. The sophomore forward opened the scoring with his third goal of the season against the Badgers after a relatively tame first five minutes of action. Folkes’ ninth goal of the season was assisted by Evan Barratt and Alex Limoges as the trio continued to produce offensively.
Penn State got off to the fast start it wanted, but Wisconsin responded well with a goal of its own seven minutes after Folkes opened the scoring. Peyton Jones made a save on a Tim Davison bomb from the point, but Seamus Malone cleaned up the scraps in front of an empty net to tie the game at one.
Penalty trouble came back to haunt the Badgers late in the first period; a Cameron Hughes boarding penalty set up Penn State’s power play with an opportunity to regain the lead. The power play did so in style, as Denis Smirnov took an Erik Autio pass at the top of the far circle and fired a wrist shot past the glove hand of Jack Berry to put the Nittany Lions up by a goal with 1:10 left in the period. Stoughton, Wisc. native Cole Hults picked up the secondary assist on Penn State’s 100th goal of the season.
The second period began with Penn State on the power play; a penalty late in the first period set up the Nittany Lions with 1:39 of carry-over time on the man advantage. Penn State could not capitalize on this opportunity, allowing the Badgers to gain momentum for the remainder of the second period.
Wisconsin dominated for long stretches of the frame, outshooting Penn State 12-8 throughout the period. The ice was firmly titled in the Badgers’ favor, but their offense struggled to finish as Peyton Jones played extremely well and stopped everything Wisconsin threw at him.
The biggest opportunity of the period came with just seconds left; Tarek Baker had a chance to stuff the puck into a wide open cage as Jones was out of position, but he put the puck through the blue paint and watched it skitter harmlessly away from goal. The Nittany Lions escaped the middle frame with their one-goal lead in tact entering the final 40 minutes of tonight’s game.
Penn State entered the third period of tonight’s game with the opportunity to take three crucial points in the Big Ten standings and snap its three-game losing streak. However, the team could not close out a strong effort with a strong third period.
Wisconsin defenseman Josh Ess tied the game with 9:36 remaining in the third after a beautiful passing play and Will Johnson perfectly tipped the puck past Peyton Jones 5:45 later to give the Badgers a 3-2 lead that they would not look back from.
Trent Frederic added an empty netter in the final 60 seconds of tonight’s game to put the icing on the cake of his team’s comeback effort.
Player Of The Game
Denis Smirnov | Sophomore | Left Wing
Denis Smirnov’s second period snipe gave the Nittany Lions a 2-1 lead late in the first period. He took an Erik Autio pass and unleashed a wicked wrist shot over the glove of Jack Berry. His eleventh goal of the season was also goal No. 100 of the season for Penn State’s top-ranked offense.
The Nittany Lions and Badgers will play game two of this weekend’s series tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m.