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Penn State Defeats Wisconsin in Game Two, 6-2

The Nittany Lions forced a decisive Game Three thanks to dominant performances from Alex Limoges and Liam Folkes.

Photo by Heather Weikel


Team 1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Team 1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
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Penn State 2 2 1 x 5

Penn State couldn’t have been faulted for coming out flat. After surrendering the game winning goal late on Friday, the Nittany Lions learned early Saturday afternoon they would be without their best player, Evan Barratt, for that evening’s must-win Game Two against Wisconsin.

It took a moment for the Nittany Lions to find their step on Saturday, but when they did, the Nittany Lions looked like their usual self.

The Nittany Lions topped the Badgers 6-2 on Saturday, forcing a decisive Game Three in their Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal.

While Barratt had to watch from the crowd, his usual linemates didn’t miss a beat in his absence. Alex Limoges had two goals and an assist while Liam Folkes had a goal and two helpers en route to the win. Adam Pilewicz, who spent much of the contest in Barratt’s place on that line, notched a pair of primary assists.

The performances were nothing new to Limoges and Folkes. Pilewicz’s performance was a pleasant surprise for a player facing the task of replacing the Nittany Lions’ best player.

“Obviously Limo and Liam played very well, but you’ve got to give Pillows a ton of credit today,” Gadowsky said following the game.

Pilewicz’s assists may have come by happenstance, with the puck deflecting off him as he screened the goalie and falling to the eventual goal scorer, but that effort of getting to the dirty areas and paying the price were vital to Penn State’s game plan.

One of the keys to the Badgers’ win on Friday was limited the Nittany Lions’ opportunities in the middle of the ice. In forcing Penn State’s shots to come from the outside, Badgers’ goalie Daniel Lebedeff had a much easier time seeing and stopping shots.

On Saturday, most of the Nittany Lions 83 attempted shots came from between the faceoff dots.

Since the Big Ten adopted its current playoff format of a best-of-three opening round, Penn State is the only team to force that decisive third game. While Tournaments past have virtually been a collection of Game 7’s, Sunday’s contest will be as close to a Game 7 as college hockey can find, and that excites Gadowsky.

“Every hockey player, no matter where you grow up, you watch Game 7’s. You see a Game 7 and that’s a big part of you loving the game,” Gadowsky said. “It really is fun to be a part of.”

What may feel similar to Penn State is having to string together consecutive performances like the Nittany Lions had on Saturday. In the most recent matchup between these two teams, Penn State rolled to an 8-2 win in Friday’s contest, only to fall 7-2 to the following day.

Following that game, Gadowsky commented how he hoped the Nittany Lions had learned their lesson about consistency and not taking a night off based on the previous night’s performance.

On Sunday, the Nittany Lions will face that test once again, and quite possibly for the last time this season.

“We’re going to take this exam together,” Gadowsky said. “We’re going to trust the studying that we’ve done this semester. We’re not going to cram.”

How It Happened

The Badgers controlled play early as the Nittany Lions tried to find their groove. Just three and a half minutes into the contest, the Badgers opened the scoring. After carrying the puck through the neutral zone and into the Nittany Lions end, Linus Weissbach slipped a shot through the legs of Peyton Jones.

The Nittany Lions responded well after allowing the opening goal, created plenty of chances that were answered by Daniel Lebedeff. Midway through the period, Alex Limoges leveled the contest at one, swatting home a rebound on a broken play.

Early in the second period, that line put the Nittany Lions in front. A point shot took a fortunate bounce for Liam Folkes, who backhanded a shot into the net with Lebedeff out of position.

Midway through the period, Brandon Biro doubled Penn State’s lead. After Chase Berger won an offensive zone draw, Biro picked up the puck, moved into the slot and fired a shot top corner past Lebedeff’s blocker.

A few minutes later, Nate Sucese put the Nittany Lions up three. A point shot by Paul DeNaples ricocheted off a Badgers defenseman and dropped to Sucese, who banked a sharp angle shot off Lebedeff.

A handful of minutes later, Evan Bell made it a four-goal game with his first as a Nittany Lion. On Penn State’s third power play of the night, Bell received a pass at the point and quickly fired a shot on net. The puck found its way through a crowd as it fluttered past Lebedeff.

The Badgers got one back midway through the final period. After a dogged effort to win the puck, Seamus Malone fed Matthew Freytag in the slot. Freytag one timed a shot bar down.

Later in the period, Alex Limoges restored Penn State’s four-goal lead with his second of the night. A forecheck by Folkes forced the puck in front of the net to Limoges, who outwaited Jack Berry and slid a shot through the legs of the Badgers goalie.