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Penn State Completes Weekend Sweep Of Wisconsin With 4-2 Win

The Nittany Lions opened Big Ten play in dramatic fashion.

Heather Weikel

Goals by Period

Team 1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Team 1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Wisconsin 1 1 0 x 2
Penn State 0 2 2 x 4

In a tightly contested third period, both Penn State and Wisconsin seemed to stray away from their usual brand of hockey. Both teams were playing solid defense, seemingly nervous about making the first mistake and giving the other a chance to win the game.

Midway through the period, the Badgers made that critical error.

After mounting an attack for the go-ahead goal, the Nittany Lions countered with a 4-on-2 rush. As they charged down the ice, Nikita Pavlychev slid the puck to winger Sam Sternschein.

After opening the scoring on the weekend Thursday night, Sternschein capped off the weekend in style as he fired a shot short side on Badgers’ goalie Daniel Lebedeff. Sternschein’s third of the season and second of the weekend was the deciding factor as Penn State topped Wisconsin 4-2 on Friday, completing a weekend sweep of the Badgers.

“I didn’t think I was having the greatest game,” Sternschein said. “I got a bounce that went my way and I was just really fired up to score that goal to put us in the lead.”

The weekend did more than give Penn State the best possible start in the Big Ten standings. The Nittany Lions put forth their most complete and consistent weekend of the season, fixing their offensive identity after struggling with it for a couple weeks and playing as well defensively as they have in a long time.

“Obviously, consistency is something that’s been a challenge for us, and it will continue to be,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “By no means have we arrived there or got it, but it is nice to see.”

Much of that consistency started from the crease, as Peyton Jones closed out the weekend stopping 63 of 66 shots.

“He’s been unbelievable for us, tonight, last night. We don’t win these games if he’s not making the saves that he makes,” Sternschein said.

The confidence Jones exudes spreads throughout the lineup. If Jones remains consistent throughout the season and the Nittany Lions can maintain this level of Penn State Hockey, that confidence may reach new heights.

“This weekend, it really felt like we played our game,” Sternschein said. “If we can keep this going, we can beat anyone.”

How It Happened

After a number of quality saves from Daniel Lebedeff, the Badgers opened up the scoring midway through the first period. During a battle for the puck behind the Penn State net, Jack Gorniak got open at the left post and stuffed a shot between it and Peyton Jones’ arm.

Early in the second period, the Nittany Lions leveled the score with a power play tally. After Brandon Biro weaved his way into the attacking zone, he dished the puck to Nikita Pavlychev, who stood patiently at the point. Pavlychev wired a pass back to Biro as he broke toward the net. The Penn State captain redirected the pass over the pad of Lebedeff.

Later in the period, the Nittany Lions benefited from a strange bounce. As Lebedeff left his net to knock down a dump in, the puck caromed off the boards and to the front of the net, where Alex Limoges buried it into an open cage.

With 100 seconds to go in the middle frame, Wyatt Kalynuk walked into the slot and fired a shot glove side on Jones to level the game at two.

Late in the period, with the Badgers on the power play, Paul DeNaples put in a shift for the ages. After being hobbled by a blocked shot, DeNaples gave up the body to keep another quality chance from reaching Jones and broke up a pass in a prime scoring position.

Midway through the third period, Sam Sternschein netted his second goal of the weekend, which served as the game winner, as he sniped a shot short side on Lebedeff.

Late in the third, with the Badgers net empty, Nate Sucese fired a shot 150 feet into the open net to ice the game for the Nittany Lions.