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No. 9 Penn State Hockey Survives Late Surge In 3-2 Win Over Wisconsin

No. 9 Penn State hockey (19-10-3, 11-8-3 Big Ten) will return from Madison tied for first place in the Big Ten after a huge win over Wisconsin (11-18-1, 6-15-1-1) at Kohl Center Saturday Night to split the weekend series.

Alex Limoges, Cole Hults, and Evan Bell built up the Nittany Lions’ lead, and the defense played lights-out down the stretch to hold off the swarming pack of Badgers.

Peyton Jones stood on his head all night, saving 27 of 29 shots in the win.

How It Happened

The night after tallying their respective 100th career points on the same play, Liam Folkes and Alex Limoges combined again to put the Nittany Lions on the scoreboard first. Folkes put a puck on net that trickled past the Wisconsin goaltender, which Limoges finished off with an easy poke to give Penn State an early lead at 7:08 in the first period.

The Nittany Lions clung to their lead for the remainder of the period, as Jones stopped 13 shots in the first 20 minutes of play.

Play went back-and-forth for the first half of the second period, until Penn State broke through on a delayed penalty thanks to its best offensive defenseman, Cole Hults. Hults threw a puck on net that took a weird bounce past Daniel Lebedeff’s and extended the Nittany Lions’ lead to 2-0 with 9:19 left in the period. His eighth goal of the season was assisted by fellow blue-liner Paul DeNaples.

Nothing came of the ensuing penalty, which was cancelled out by a tripping call on Evan Barratt.

The Badgers began to surge late in the second period, despite Penn State’s strong defensive effort. The Nittany Lions spent a little too much time in their own zone as the clock wound down, and an unfortunate turnover led to a Wisconsin goal with just 10.4 seconds left in the frame.

Penn State came out from the second intermission determined to suck the wind out of the Badgers’ sails, and Evan Bell did just that. The junior defender charged the net and tapped in a rebound to finish off an odd-man rush, giving the Nittany Lions a 3-1 lead with 15:25 remaining in regulation.

The insurance goal was Bell’s first of the season, assisted by Aarne Talvitie and Kevin Wall.

A late holding call on Denis Smirnov sent Wisconsin on the power play with 4:50 left in the game, but Penn State’s special teams unit shut down the Badgers’ man-advantage in crunch time.

Wisconsin pulled its goalie with 1:53 left in the game, and the swap for an extra attacker paid off. The Badgers swarmed the Penn State zone until the final horn, but they only managed to get one past Peyton Jones before time expired.

Penn State survived the late surge to win 3-2 and escape Wisconsin with a crucial series split.

Takeaways

  • After letting up two unanswered goals to open Friday’s contest and ending the first period behind 3-1, Saturday got off to a much better start for Penn State. The Nittany Lions took an early lead and built themselves a nice cushion to help survive the late surge from Wisconsin.
  • The defense played fantastic in front of Jones tonight, but it played even better in the offensive zone. Three blue-liners tallied points, including the late insurance goal from Evan Bell, which turned out to be the game-winner. The contributions from the back-end proved just how dangerous this team is even when the forwards aren’t producing at their usual clip.
  • Peyton Jones. That’s it. That’s the takeaway. If you take away a bad defensive zone turnover and a deflected puck during the late frenzy, he probably delivers a shutout tonight. The senior netminder has been the backbone of this team all year. It doesn’t matter what happens in front of him, he gives the Nittany Lions a chance to win every time he is in the crease.

What’s Next?

Penn State is back on home ice next weekend, as it welcomes Minnesota to Pegula Ice Arena for the final series of the regular season. Puck drop is slated for 8:30 p.m. Friday night for the first of two games, as the Nittany Lions and Golden Gophers will duke it out for first place in the Big Ten.

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About the Author

Anthony Fiset

Anthony is a senior *gasp* majoring in Economics and a lifetime Costco Executive Member. If you are an employer, please hire him. Otherwise, direct all complaints to [email protected]

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