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Penn State Hockey Fails to Sweep Wisconsin, Loses 2-1

The Nittany Lions missed too many opportunities – and shots – to come away with the series sweep Saturday.



Penn State Hockey, Layne Loomer
Sep 26, 2016; State College, PA, USA; A general view of Pegula Ice Arena prior to a preseason hockey game between the Minnesota Wild and the Buffalo Sabres. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State hockey (20-13-1, 10-13-1 Big Ten) failed to complete the series sweep of Wisconsin (13-21, 6-18 Big Ten) Saturday night, losing by a score of 2-1. The loss comes on the heels of a dominating 6-1 win Friday and a disappointing series against Minnesota last weekend.

Looking for the sweep to lock up the second seed for the Big Ten tournament, the Nittany Lions now depend on action from around the conference to determine if they will get home ice next weekend.

First Period Power Plays Benefit Badgers

Tempers flared early following a roughing call on Penn State’s Connor McMenamin three minutes into the first period. The officials needed to separate the two teams directly in front of the student section, which brought the crowd – the third largest in Pegula Ice Area history –  alive. The Lions defended the ensuing power play, keeping the game scoreless into the period’s midway point.

Penn State went on a power play of its own seven minutes into the first period. The Nittany Lions fired a flurry of shots on goal in the closing seconds of the power play but to no avail.

This matchup continued to get chippy as the first period wore on. In another power play – their third of the period – Wisconsin was finally able to break through. The power play goal scored by Corson Cuelemans gave the Badgers a 1-0 lead with under seven minutes to play in the period.

Penn State led the period in shots on goal 18-11, with several fast break opportunities and other chances to score. However, the Lions couldn’t convert and ended the first period down one.

McMenamin Evens Things in the Second

The start of the second period was relatively quiet compared to the first. Both sides struggled to put shots on goal, with Penn State still maintaining a slight advantage. The Nittany Lions had scoring opportunities but failed to make the most of them.

However, momentum quickly shifted back towards the Nittany Lions as the period continued. McMenamin capitalized on a 3-2 advantage, scoring his eighth goal of the season to even the score at one with 8:57 remaining in the period.

The Nittany Lion defense was tested late in the period, as goaltender Liam Souliere fended off a series of shots, including a breakaway opportunity. Penn State missed an excellent scoring opportunity itself, as Connor MacEachern’s fast break shot went wide off the right pipe.

By this point, the sleepy start to the second period wore off, and the crowd became fully engaged again. A long delay for a penalty review sent the home fans into a frenzy. The Lions used the power play to create several more scoring opportunities to close the period, but they all failed.

Missed Opportunities

Despite dominating the puck and holding a significant advantage in shots on goal, Penn State struggled to produce points. With just under 14 minutes to play, Wisconsin’s Mathieu De St. Phalle squeezed one through the upper right corner of the goal to give the Badgers a 2-1 lead.

Penn State had nearly seven minutes of power play time through the period’s midway point. Despite having several excellent looks at the goal, the Lions could not score once again. Penn State even had a MacEachern goal overturned, which the Hockey Valley faithful did not receive well.

The night’s story – too many missed opportunities for the Nittany Lions. Penn State had 48 shots on goal to Wisconsin’s 19. However, Wisconsin’s shots found the back of the net, and Penn State’s didn’t. Overall, Penn State more than doubled Wisconsin in total shots attempted, 92-41.

The Lions had every opportunity to score over the final eight minutes of play – and the entire game – but were unsuccessful. After a blowout win last night, Penn State fell in a close one at home, losing 2-1.

“I don’t think we had to do anything differently,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said after the game. “I thought we had a lot of looks…it just didn’t go our way tonight.”

Home Cooking for Penn State Hockey?

This weekend’s series was meaningful beyond attempting to end the regular season on a high note. Despite a touch-and-go season at times, the Lions had the opportunity to secure the second seed for the Big Ten tournament.

With the possibility of finishing anywhere from second to sixth, Penn State would have benefitted significantly by sweeping the Badgers this weekend. However, with the loss, we will need to wait for the results of the Notre Dame and Michigan game later Saturday evening to see if the Nittany Lions can get home-ice advantage next weekend.

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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