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No. 19 Penn State Hockey Obliterates Wisconsin 8-2

No. 19 Penn State men’s hockey (18-11-2, 9-10-1 Big Ten) defeated Wisconsin (10-16-5, 6-10-5 Big Ten) in emphatic fashion to kick off its weekend series.

Denis Smirnov and Brandon Biro scored a pair of goals, while Cole Hults, Sam Sternschein, Nate Sucese, all Chase Berger chipped in with goals as well.

Peyton Jones was rock solid in net stopping 29 of the 31 shots that came his way.

How It Happened

The game got off to a hectic start when Paul DeNaples fired a shot off the left post just over a minute into the game. Denis Smirnov drilled the same post about a minute later; despite generating two A+ opportunities Penn State was left empty handed early on tonight.

The Nittany Lions’ offensive efforts didn’t go unrewarded for long. Brandon Biro was left all alone in front of the net and calmly made Wisconsin goaltender Daniel Lebedeff look silly with a smooth deke. Penn State grabbed an early 1-0 lead on the play.

The lead would be doubled a couple minutes later when Smirnov slammed home a rebound from a Kevin Kerr point shot. It was the junior forward’s first goal in 11 games and the start of his monster night.

The second period got off to a bit of a cagey start in which neither team really enforced their will on the game. Out of nowhere, Badger forward Mick Messner uncorked a wicked wrist shot and beat Peyton Jones on his glove side to cut his team’s deficit to 2-1. Wyatt Kalynuk later tied the game with a seeing-eye shot from the point that got through traffic and beat Jones cleanly.

Smirnov doubled his goal tally on the night to regain the lead for Penn State. The junior wing got a nice bounce after an Alex Stevens bomb from the point for the eventual game-winning goal.

With less than five minutes remaining in the period, Cole Hults fired a seemingly harmless shot from the boards. The shot found its way past Lebedeff, and Penn State led 4-2 with 4:52 to play in the second period.

Sam Sternschein added a backbreaking fifth goal for the Nittany Lions with 15.6 seconds to play in the middle frame. The goal gave Penn State a deserved 5-2 lead entering the second intermission.

The Nittany Lions would start the third period with another goal to effectively kill off the game. Nate Sucese ripped a shot past Lebedeff, who at that point was probably just ready to go home, to make it 6-2 Penn State.

Chase Berger kicked the extra point scored Penn State’s seventh goal of the game. After Berger’s goal, Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato mercifully pulled Lebedeff in favor of Johan Blomquist.

Brandon Biro would snag his second goal of the game to extend the Nittany Lion lead to 8-2 to finish off an all-around excellent effort.

Takeaways

  • Denis Smirnov finally got the monkey off his back by ending his 11-game goal drought and scoring four (!!) points. The junior had been the Nittany Lions’ premiere offensive talent for the last two seasons, but he’s struggled to produce this season.
  • Penn State’s offense fired on all cylinders tonight. With eight goals scored by six different goal scorers, the Nittany Lions were not lacking in offense or depth tonight. They also racked up an absurd 40 shots in the first two periods alone, and ended the game with 56 shots on goal.
  • Watching Sean Dhooghe skate around the ice is quite a sight. The Wisconsin winger stands at just 5’3″ and 150 pounds, making him noticeably smaller than every other player on the ice. The moments when Dhooghe ended up being lined up near Nikita Pavlychev, who stands at 6’8″ and 225 pounds, displayed the physical mismatch that Dhooghe has to overcome on a nightly basis.

What’s Next

Penn State and Wisconsin will face off again at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Pegula Ice Arena.

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About the Author

Matthew Fox

Matt is a Senior from Lansdale Pennsylvania majoring in Broadcast Journalism. He loves sports, and is still patiently waiting for the Philadelphia Flyers to win a Stanley Cup. If you would ever like to reach out to Matt you can email him at [email protected]

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