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Penn State Hockey Preview: No. 14 Nittany Lions Visit Wisconsin

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Hockey is back, but not for long!

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Who: University of Wisconsin
When: Friday 8:00 p.m. EST, Saturday 8:00 p.m. EST
Where: Kohl Center, Madison, WI
TV: ASN/TSN2 (Friday only)
Stream: Audio: Fri+Sat
Live Stats: Gopsusports.com

After a week off, No. 14 Penn State (19-9-4) closes out their season with two more series on the road. First up are the last ranked Wisconsin Badgers (6-16-8), also ranked last in the Big Ten with just one win against their other five conference rivals.

Last time out, the Nittany Lions handed the Badgers a 4-3 overtime loss and a 4-1 regulation defeat back in January. With just four games left before the Big Ten Tournament in Minnesota, Penn State will need to roll over Wisconsin again to keep pace in the PairWise Rankings, the system that mimics the NCAA tournament selection committee. Currently, the Nittany Lions are tied at No. 14 with Minnesota-Duluth in one of the last three spots.

A dominant performance this weekend will not only keep Penn State afloat, it will also lead the Nittany Lions into their final series of the season -- two games against their rivals from Michigan.

Getting To Know The Badgers

Back when we previewed Wisconsin, we mentioned how young the Badgers are. Since the last time these two teams played in mid-January, the Badgers put together two wins against Alaska then tied the Buckeyes 4-4 last week.

Junior Grant Besse is still the team leader in points, now increasing his total to 29 in 30 games, just under a point per game pace. His 21 assists leads the team but freshman Ryan Wagner holds the team's No. 1 goalscoring spot, scoring 15 times over 29 games. Seamus Malone is the team's second place assists leader, just two behind Besse's 21 and both Malone and Wagner are tied on the team with two game winning goals.

Matt Jurusik is holding down the fort in net for the Badgers. With 29 games played so far this season and over 1,700 minutes accumulated in goal, the freshman has been thrown into the fire without much help. With the 18th most minutes played by any goaltender in the NCAA, Jurusik has a 3.48 GAA and a .889 save percentage. The freshman has also started in all but two games for the Badgers, so he will probably play in both performances against the Nittany Lions this weekend.

We wrote last time we saw Wisconsin that the Badgers bad play might not be a good look for head coach Mike Eaves. With the success the coach has had in the last 10 years at the helm, it's a mystery why this season has been such a drop off for the Badgers. The senior turnover from last season was pretty large -- as there are just five upperclassmen on the team this year -- but a high class program like Wisconsin shouldn't have a problem bringing in viable recruits.

Time will only tell for the Badgers if these final four games of the season are the last for Eaves as the bench boss of Wisconsin.

Notes

  • How can Penn State clinch a berth in the NCAA Tournament? Good question! Onward State has the answer.
  • Eamon McAdam is a nominee for the Mike Richter Award! The junior goalie has gotten better every year and he is the first Penn State goalie to be nominated for the award.
  • Luke Juha's four year Nittany Lion career is coming to an end. Read more about his time with the team at GoPSUSports.com.
  • You can renew your season tickets for next season already! April 8 is the cutoff date.