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Penn State Hockey Hosts Wisconsin Preview

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The Lions, coming off a satisfying win against #17 Vermont, swept the Badgers in Madison earlier this season.

Photo by Tom Klimek

When: Friday 6:30 p.m. / Saturday 2 p.m.

Where: Pegula Ice Arena, State College, Pa.

Television: Friday: Big Ten Network / Saturday: American Sports Network

Streaming Video: btn2go.com

The first game of the series on Friday night will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network. The crowd inside Pegula will be dressed in all-white, which will add to the spectacle that normally is involved in a PSU home game. This white-out game will demonstrate the wild atmosphere inside the beautiful new arena to a national audience.

The Lions have skated to an amazing 8-1-3 record at home this season. The only loss was in the last minute of overtime to Ohio State. The team is unbeaten since that game, with a 4-0-2 record.

The Opponent

Wisconsin (2-16-4) started the season with eight straight losses. The team managed a tie and a win against Ferris State in early December the weekend before it hosted Penn State. The Lions swept the Badgers in the first Big Ten conference series sweep in team history.

Since then Wisconsin has played much more solid as a team. While the team has not won many games, it has been extremely competitive for the past couple of months.

The Badgers own a misleading record of 1-6-3 since the teams last met. It has beaten a tough Michigan Tech team, tied Boston University, and tied Minnesota twice. While this is not a resume of a champion, the team has shown the ability to play with the best squads in the country since it last shared the ice with PSU.

Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves, now in his 13th season, was asked about the differences in his team at this time compared to where it was the last time it played against PSU.

I think there are a lot of differences, and that's a long time in the life of a freshman hockey player. They have played a lot more games and been through a lot more practices, and they understand school and the social responsibilities that they have. It's an awful lot to put on their plates, so we are at a different place than we were then and looking forward to going back and seeing what we can do against them.

Freshmen Corbin McGuire was suspended for the first game of the series after a knee-on-knee hit he dealt to Minnesota's leading scorer Connor Reilly. McGuire was not ejected from the game after the hit, given only a 5 minute major penalty, but the Big Ten reviewed the play and issued the suspension on Monday. The freshmen forward has only two points on the year but he has played significant minutes, appearing in 21 games.

McGuire was allowed to return to the ice after the penalty expired, and scored the shoot-out winning goal in overtime to give the Badgers the extra point. That in addition to the possibility that Connor Reilly will miss at least a couple of weeks with the injury has Gopher fans up in arms about the initial non-ejection.

Wisconsin will enter Pegula with nothing to lose and a team full of young, talented players.

Notes:

  • Penn State is six games over .500 for the first time in program history since joining division one.
  • The Lions are averaging 4.14 goals per game since January 9th.
  • The comment section of this article will be used as an open-thread conversation during the game.
  • Check out the latest installment of the Penn State Hockey Story