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Penn State Hockey Barely Holds On To Upset No. 12 Wisconsin 5-4

Penn State hockey (8-8-0, 6-8-0 Big Ten) barley held on to upset No. 12 Wisconsin (9-7-0, 7-5-0 Big Ten) Friday night at Pegula Ice Arena.

Connor McMenamin was the star of the game, notching five points in the victory. Aarne Talvitie also had two goals in the game for Penn State. Oskar Autio was massive again for the Nittany Lions, making 35 saves in the win.

Four different Wisconsin Badgers scored in the game while Cameron Rowe made 13 saves on 16 shots before being pulled in favor of Robbie Beydoun, who made 21 saves in relief.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions started off the game faster than the previous night and were rewarded. Some great work by Christian Sarlo and McMenamin helped generate a wide open chance for Talvitie who slotted a shot through Rowe for the 1-0 lead only 2:54 into the game.

It then only took another 13 seconds for Penn State to double its lead. For the second time in two games, Wall fired a weird shot from the corner that deflected off a Badger and somehow found its way through Rowe for the 2-0 lead 3:07 into the game. The 13 seconds between the goals fell four seconds short of the record for fastest time between goals in program history.

The Nittany Lions continued to dominate the opening frame. Penn State was the first team to earn a power play on the night after Mike Vorlicky was called for a high sticking penalty with just under eight minutes left in the period. Rowe began to settle down after the early goals and stood firm to help kill off the man advantage.

Both teams’ penalty troubles continued from the previous night, as Wisconsin was called for too many men on the ice sending Penn State back on the power play 15 seconds after killing off the initial penalty. Penn State would make Wisconsin pay as Talvitie waltzed his way down the near boards and unleashed an absolutely wicked snapshot bar down on Rowe for his second goal of the game and the 3-0 Penn State lead. It would also be the last action Rowe would see, as the Badger net minder was pulled after allowing three goals on 16 shots.

The theme of the series, penalties, continued as Mason Snell was called for a boarding penalty with 2:58 remaining in the period. The Badgers had two power play goals the previous night but were denied a power play goal by the Penn State penalty kill to start off the night. That would be the final action of a domination period for the Nittany Lions. Penn State went into the first intermission up 3-0 and lead in shots 16-5.

Guess how the second period started? Penalties!! Xander Lamppa was sent to the box 2:25 into the second frame, giving Wisconsin its second power play of the game. But similar to the first one, Penn State’s penalty kill preformed well and killed it off.

Wisconsin would find its first goal of the game through Halloway. Halloway found his way behind the defense and buried a breakaway past Autio to cut the Nittany Lion lead to 3-1 with 13 minutes left in the second frame. The goal was a strong catalyst for an offensive push from the Badgers for the next few minutes.

It would be the Nittany Lions who would find the next goal, though. Phillips got involved offensively as he buried a shot past Beydoun to extend the Nittany Lions lead back to three goals with ten minutes left in the second period. It was also McMenamin’s fourth assist of the game.

The Badgers got their third power play of the game when Alex Limoges was sent packing to the box for hooking. The Nittany Lions actually produced the best chances of the power play while shorthanded as Penn State killed it off for the third time of the night.

There was yet another (guess what penalty) on Penn State, this time on DeNaples for tripping with 30 seconds left in the period. It was the Badgers eleventh (!) power play of the series. Time would run out on the period as Penn State went into the second intermission still up 4-1. The Nittany Lions also leadin shots 33-27. Penn State were the better team but a plethora of penalties get the Badgers in the game.

The third period began with the Badgers still on the power play for the first 1:28 of the game. For the fourth time of the night, the Nittany Lion penalty killers limited Wisconsin’s high powered power play unit and killed it off.

Wisconsin began to pour it on as the Nittany Lions began to collapse around Autio. Despite the pressure, the Nittany Lions held firm in front of Autio. Wisconsin would eventually break down the Nittany Lion defense when Ahchan was left wide open in the slot and buried a one timer past Autio to make it a 4-2 game with 9:33 remaining in the game.

The Nittany Lions defensive approach to the final frame did not boad well as the period rolled on. Wisconsin would cut the lead to one when Pelton-Byce put on past Autio on the high glove side to make it a 4-3 game with 7:58 left in the period. The ice was firmly tilted in favor of the Badgers as a tying goal looked imminent.

Beydoun went to the bench with 2:15 remaining in the game. Luckily for the Nittany Lions, they would bend but not break. McMenamin buried the empty netter for his fifth point of the game and the 5-3 Penn State lead with just over a minute left in the game.

The Badgers would not go down without a fight as Cole Caufield scored with 45 seconds left to make the Nittany Lions sweat and make it a 5-4 game. That would be the last goal of the game, though, as Penn State barely held on for the 5-4 upset win over the Wisconsin Badgers.

Takeaways

  • Penalties, penalties, penalties. Gadowsky talked after the last game about how the Nittany Lions needed to be more disciplined. To be fair, Penn State had less penalties in this game, but still way too many. Even when the Nittany Lions had a three goal lead, you could tell the anxiety around the team when they gave Wisconsin a power play and a chance to get back into the game, despite the Nittany Lions outplaying the Badgers. It’s not enough and the coaching staff and team know it.
  • The first period was Penn State’s best of the season and the third period was by far its worst of the season. The Nittany Lions turtled around Autio and had a handful of shifts of offensive zone pressure but that was it. Shout out to Autio again for staying firm in goal. Penn State should stick to being an offensive team because that third period proved it can’t rely on soley defense to close out games.
  • What a win! Penn State was heartbroken after the last game and came out with a mission in this one. It wasn’t pretty but it got the job done. Wisconsin is a top team in the conference and a win against it is a massive moral victory for the Nittany Lions. Gadowsky should be thrilled with a series spilt against the Badgers.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions finish off their six-game home stand with a series against the No. 16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Game one of that series will take place on Thursday, January 28. Game time and broadcast location are still yet to be determined.

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About the Author

Connor Donohue

Connor is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. He hails from the great state of New Jersey and is proud of it. Lover of the greatest city in the world, New York City, he strongly dislikes the city of Philadelphia and will not hesitate to tell you that. He's also been cursed as a Penn State fan since birth. If you want to call him a bum or maybe go out on a date with him, follow him on twitter @ConnorDonohue00 or email him at [email protected]

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