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No. 10 Penn State Men’s Hockey Drops Regular-Season Finale 2-1 To Wisconsin

No. 10 Penn State men’s hockey (20-13-1) faced Wisconsin (13-21-0) at home in its final regular season matchup, suffering a deflating 2-1 loss to the Badgers.

The Nittany Lions went down early as Wisconsin grabbed the lone first-period goal, but they were able to level the game in the second period off the stick of Connor McMenamin. The Badgers grabbed the lead at the top of the third and never gave it back for a 2-1 score.

How It Happened

Penn State returned its starters from last night’s 6-1 routing of the badgers with forwards Danny Dzaniyev, Ture Linden, and Ashton Calder, as well as Paul DeNaples and Christian Berger at defense. Liam Souliere started in cage for the Nittany Lions while Kyle McClellan got the nod for Wisconsin.

The Nittany Lions got off to a hot start, creating a dangerous scrum in front of the fresh goaltender, McClellan, but the Badgers kept the puck out of the net in the opening minute.

Penn State was dealt an early penalty after Connor McMenamin was called for roughing 3:07 into the first period. The penalty kill unit looked sound, only allowing perimeter shots that Souliere easily snagged, and brought the team back to full strength without much mess.

At 14:20 to go in the first, Souliere came up big with a triple save at the net mouth, keeping the game even and bailing out the Nittany Lion defense.

Penn State was awarded its first power play of the game as Wisconsin conceded a roughing penalty behind the play with 13:00 to go in the opening frame. At first, the advantage unit was unable to enter the zone as the Badgers easily defended their dump-and-chase plan but got cooking late to take quality shots on net. The Nittany Lions ended up fruitless, though, after the power play expired.

The referees were determined to keep the game in check early after the chippy first leg of the series, taking both Alex Servagno and Tyson Jugnauth for offsetting cross-checking minors and setting the game four-on-four at 9:37 to go in the first. The Nittany Lions conceded another minor penalty when Kevin Wall was caught hooking and went down four men to three. Wisconsin capitalized on its advantage when Corson Ceulemans found an opening on the left circle and teed up an uncontested one timer for the 1-0 score.

The rest of the first period was uneventful, and while Penn State controlled possession and took the majority of shots on net, the Nittany Lions couldn’t get comfortable in the attacking third before the period ended.

The teams returned from intermission, and the Badgers continued to tilt the ice in their favor, causing turnovers in the neutral zone and hogging the puck throughout the opening minutes of the second. Play eventually evened out as the Nittany Lions got their legs back under them.

Penn State finally answered its opponent 11:03 into the second period as McMenamin fired Wall’s cross-ice pass home and set the game at 1-1. Wisconsin also took a penalty for too many men on the ice on the same play and gave the blue and white its second man advantage of the game.

The Nittany Lions pressed the Badgers with their low umbrella and created a golden opportunity in the crease for Tyler Gratton, but McClellan stood firm and kept the game level, with the penalty expiring shortly afterward.

With 4:48 to go in the second, Penn State looked to Souliere once more to bail it out as Mathieu De St. Phalle streaked into the zone on a breakaway, stonewalling the Badger up close. The Nittany Lions similarly had an odd-man rush the other direction, but Connor MacEachern’s shot rang off the iron and the score sat at 1-1.

No love was lost between the sides since their contest the night earlier, as the tension finally boiled over at the end of the second period. Jack Horbach cross-checked Gratton in the face mask following the whistle, earning him a five-minute major. Gratton was assessed a minor unsportsmanlike penalty for his reaction. The four-on-four period took the game to the end of period, leaving Penn State with 2:23 left on its advantage after intermission.

Returning to the ice for round three, the Nittany Lions could not capitalize on their power play and the sides returned to even strength once more.

Wisconsin struck with 13:41 to go in the third, as De St. Phalle entered through the right circle and finished the play with a snipe over Souliere’s shoulder to put the Badgers up 2-1.

Immediately following the goal, Mike Vorlicky viciously checked Tyler Paquette behind his cage, warranting an instant five-minute game misconduct and ejection. Paquette spent a considerable amount of time off the ice but was able to return to play on the following power play.

The game, out of hand for the referees at this point, had another post-whistle brawl that sent Christian Sarlo and Ceulemans to the box for roughing. Following the penalties, Penn State won the offensive face-off back to Berger, who sent the puck to Wall before it reached MacEachern for the clap-bomb finish. Upon review, the goal was waved off.

Penn State came up goalless on yet another power play, as its second major chance came to a close.

Almost 18 minutes into the final frame, Souliere left his cage for an extra attacker, leaving the Nittany Lions in desperation mode. Calder almost knotted the game up with a blue line blast but hit the crossbar with 58 seconds to go. Penn State couldn’t get it done with the extra man as the buzzer sounded, and the score was 2-1 in favor of Wisconsin.

Takeaways

  • Through the first half of the contest, Penn State’s offense was unable to connect the dots en route to the cage, misfiring during key opportunities. It would take physical, chippy play to jumpstart the sleeping offense late in the second period.
  • Big-time goaltending kept the score low throughout the contest. Both McClellan and Souliere stood on their heads to make big one-on-one saves when their teams needed them.
  • Penn State’s power play looked completely inept with the extra skater. Wisconsin spent 30 minutes, or half the game, with a player in the box, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t convert any man-up goals.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will take the show on the road for the quarterfinal series in the Big Ten Tournament. The game will take place on March 3, but the opponent is still to be determined.

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About the Author

Jack Scott

Jack is a junior industrial engineering major from Pittsburgh, PA. Sometimes, he enjoys the misunderstanding of his friends and family that Penn State Club Ski Racing may be a D1 sport and usually won't correct them. Jack is way too into Thundercat for his own good. Follow him on Twitter @joscottIV and Instagram @jackscott._iv

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