Penn State held the lead for most of the game but was unable to get the win. With a burst of three goals in the final period, the Badgers took control late in the game.
The loss is the fourth in a row for Guy Gadowsky’s squad and while it is far from panic time in Hockey Valley, the team could use a strong showing in the series finale. With the four consecutive losses, Penn State still sits in the No. 16 spot in the PairWise, within a slot or two of a likely at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The team has plenty of opportunity to move back up the rankings, with 5 of the final 7 regular-season games coming against opponents currently ranked in the top-20 of the PairWise.
The teams will play game two of the series on Saturday at 8 p.m. The game will be carried on Fox Sports-Wisconsin and streamed free of charge on BTN2go for those who have a subscription to the Big Ten Network.
Each team came out sharp, skating end to end at a high pace. Just over five minutes into the game, Liam Folkes scored to get the Lions an early 1-0 lead. Alex Limoges walked the puck into the zone and got off a shot that Wisconsin goalie Jack Berry could not control. Evan Barratt got a second shot off a wall of Badgers and then Folkes swooped in to finish the play.
Midway through the first period Penn State had the lead and a 10-7 advantage in shots on goal. Wisconsin didn’t wait long to even the score. Three minutes later Seamus Malone got a rebound past Peyton Jones and the teams were tied with seven minutes to play before the first intermission.
Nikita Pavlychev took a couple tough hits in the first period and with 2:31 a shot that knocked the big forward to the ice was called as a boarding penalty on Wisconsin. The Lions went on the first power-play of the game. After a couple of tries were rebuffed, the Penn State power-play unit produced when Denis Smirnov let a shot go that went through some traffic in front of Berry.
PSU went on the power-play late in the period and began the second period with a 5 on 4 advantage. The penalty came and went without a score.
With 13:36 to go in the period Nikita Pavlychev was called for an elbowing penalty and the Badgers had their first chance with an extra skater. Chase Berger cleared the puck from his knees in front of Peyton Jones after a Wisconsin flurry of shots at the end of the two minutes and Penn State killed the penalty.
James Robinson had a chance to add to the Penn State lead with six minutes to play before the second intermission but Jack Berry made a save with his glove while lying down on his back on the ice. Peyton Jones made a great save to hold off Trent Frederic a couple of minutes later.
With under twenty seconds to play the Badgers had a chance to even up the game when a trio of shots eluded both Jones and the empty net behind him. The teams went to the locker rooms with the home team trailing 2-1.
The Lions went on a power-play in the first minute of the final period but were unable to score. Sam Sternschein hit the post for Penn State five minutes into the third period and Jack Berry was forced to make a tough save on the next trip down the ice, but the score remained unchanged.
Just before the midway point in the period the teams were given matching penalties. Wisconsin got a goal shortly after by Josh Ess and the game was tied 2-2. Nikita Pavlychev drew his second penalty of the night when he was driven to the ice and with 7:30 left in regulation the Lions skated with the advantage. The Badgers controlled the puck for the majority of the penalty and there were no strong scoring chances for the Lions.
Will Johnson re-directed a shot from the point with under four minutes to play to give the Badgers their first lead of the night.
Peyton Jones skated to the bench with two minutes to play while the Lions attempted to use the extra skater to tie the game. Liam Folkes hit the post with a minute to play, just missing a goal to square it up. Trent Frederic iced the game with an empty-net goal shorty after.