|Shots on Goal||1st||2nd||3rd||Final|
The Penn State hockey team (21-12-4) took care of business in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Facing a Wisconsin team that was capable of an upset, the senior-laden Lions played a solid 60 minutes of hockey.
The Lions got the scoring started when Eric Scheid and Connor Varley netted first period goals. Early in the second period Wisconsin cut the lead to one goal when 17 year-old freshman phenom Luke Kunin scored on a great pass from Grant Besse. That would be as close as the Badgers would get to tying the game.
Penn State added two goals in the second period from Ricky DeRosa and Tommy Olczyk to stretch the lead to 4-1 heading into the final period of play. The Badgers fought to the finish but were unable to overcome the deficit.
The teams skated fast and evenly at the start of the game. After a couple of icing calls early, the teams played for more than nine minutes without a whistle. With just over seven minutes left in the period, Penn State struck first when Eric Scheid took a nice pass from Luke Juha and finished past Wisconsin goalie Matt Jurusik. Scheid caught the Badger defense off-guard and Juha was able to find him with a nifty lob pass.
Following the goal, the momentum of the game titled in favor of the Lions. It didn't take long for Penn State to add to the lead. With three minutes remaining in the period Connor Varley scored from the blue line. David Goodwin and Eric Scheid assisted on the goal. Varley sent a seeing-eye shot toward the net and with a light deflection it got past Jurusik.
The Badgers did not hang their heads following the second goal. Instead the teams skated as though it were an even game, with each side having solid scoring chances in the finishing minutes of the first frame.
Three minutes into the second period, the Badgers got a goal back when freshman Luke Kunin scored on a great pass from Grant Besse. During the play the Lions were called for a penalty and as a result Wisconsin went on a power-play after scoring the goal. In college hockey the penalty is served even if a team scores while on a delayed penalty. Penn State was able to kill off the penalty and the teams resumed even strength play.
Play went on for ten minutes without either team able to score. Finally with 6:42 left on the clock in the second period, Ricky DeRosa scored on another long-range shot. Luke Juha skated across the blue line, dropped the puck to DeRosa, who let it fly while goalie Jurusik was screened. The puck was deflected off defenseman Tim Davison's leg and changed direction while it was out of Jurusik's sight.
A couple minutes later the Lions extended the lead to 4-1 when DeRosa found Tommy Olcyzk streaking down the neutral zone. Olczyk finished the play with ease.
With 16 minutes left in the game Grant Besse brought the Badgers to within two goals when he beat Eamon McAdam on a rebound follow. McAdam was able to make a save on the initial shot but the loose puck found Besse and Besse found the back of the net.
With 1:28 seconds remaining and the goalie pulled on the Badger end, Besse hit the post on a shot that could have brought the game to within one goal. That was the final serious threat that Wisconsin had at making a comeback. Eric Scheid added an empty-net goal with less than a minute left to make the final score 5-2.
Stars of the Game
Eamon McAdam, Penn State. 35 saves and a win.
Eric Scheid, Penn State. 2 goals 1 assist.
Luke Juha, Penn State. 3 assists.
The Lions will face Michigan on Friday at 5 p.m. EST in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and streamed online for free at BTN2go.com for BTN subscribers. Not much has changed since the teams met a week ago, so you can catch up with this preview. One thing that has changed in favor of the Lions is that the team has two additional players to use in this game than it had the last time the teams met. In the final game of the season in Ann Arbor, PSU skated with only 10 forwards as opposed to the normal 12 due to injury.