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Know Your Enemy: No. 19 Penn State Hockey vs. Wisconsin

No. 19 Penn State men’s hockey (17-11-2, 9-10-1 Big Ten) will wrap up its regular season slate of home games against Wisconsin this weekend.

Puck drop is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday, both at Pegula Ice Arena. The first game of the series will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network, and the Nittany Lions’ annual senior night ceremony will take place 15 minutes before puck drop on Saturday.

The Badgers will try to keep the good times rolling against Guy Gadowsky’s team after taking five of six points against the Nittany Lions on November 30 and December 1.

The Team

Barring a miraculous run to end this season, Wisconsin (10-15-5, 6-9-5 Big Ten) will miss out on the NCAA tournament for the fifth consecutive season.

Head coach Tony Granato’s team has been doomed by a brutal second half of the season. The Badgers finished the first half of the year on a three-game winning streak, but they’ve won just twice since kicking off the second half of the year with a series against Denver.

Wisconsin is 2-8-2 in 2019, but one of those victories came in a split of Notre Dame last weekend. The team has struggled to keep the puck out of its own net this year, which suits Penn State’s high-flying offense just fine.


The Badger offense is currently middle-of-the-pack in the national offensive rankings — its 2.87 goals per game clip ranks No. 29.

Veteran center Seamus Malone leads the forward group in terms of scoring with 20 points this season. His linemates, Will Johnson and Jack Gorniak, have 14 and 10 points, respectively, in 30 appearances.

The top line hasn’t been firing on all cylinders this year, but Wisconsin’s second line has been a decent source of scoring for the team. The 5’3″ Sean Dhooghe and Linus Weissbach are tied for second among Badger forwards with 17 points each. Dhooghe leads the team in goals with 10.

Wisconsin has been able to count on plenty of scoring from its depth. The team has 10 forwards with double-digit point totals through 30 games.

Defense & Goaltending

The Badgers’ corps of forwards is deep, but their defensemen can also produce consistently.

Freshman sensation K’Andre Miller leads the team in scoring with 17 assists and 22 points in 26 games played. He’s been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season in Madison. The New York Rangers traded up to pick him No. 22 overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, and he’s validated the decision by showcasing his brilliant skating ability and strong defensive presence.

Miller didn’t play against Notre Dame last weekend after a violent collision into the boards against Ohio State two weeks ago, and his status for this weekend is unclear. The Badgers are 2-10-2 in games that the star blueliner doesn’t score a point in, so his potential absence would certainly be felt.

The Rangers’ prospect is one of four defensemen on the team with more than 10 points this year. Although its offensive production has been excellent, the Badger defense hasn’t helped its goaltenders much. Daniel Lebedeff has a 7-9-5 record, 3.08 goals-against average, and .891 save percentage in 21 games played.


My prediction hinges on whether K’Andre Miller plays for Wisconsin. USCHO executive editor Todd Milewski reported Miller likely won’t play this weekend as he recovers from the injury.

Assuming Miller doesn’t skate this weekend, Penn State shouldn’t have any issue sweeping the Badgers. I predict a 4-2 Nittany Lion win Friday night before a more resounding 6-1 victory on senior night.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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