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Wisconsin Takes Game One 4-3: Lions’ Grasp On First Place Weakens

It was not the finish that the team wanted but it will fight on tomorrow night.

Photo By Heather Weikel

Penn State played a great game but lost in the final minute in a tough road contest. After trailing by two goals on two separate occasions, the Lions tied the game in the final period. The last period was all Penn State until a goal in the final minute gave Wisconsin the win.

With the loss, the Lions stay in first place in the Big Ten but with two fewer games left to play, will likely have a hard time staying in the top position. The PairWise Ranking will take a hit as well but there’s plenty of hockey to be played, the loss won’t matter if the Penn State can split the series.

The teams will play game two of the series at 8 p.m. on Saturday night.

How It Happened

Wisconsin got the first shot on goal a few minutes in but the Lions went on the first power-play shortly after. The Lions committed a penalty with the advantage after getting 2 shots on goal and the teams skated 4 on 4. Peyton Jones made a nice save to keep the Badgers from scoring when they had a short 5 on 4 power-play.

Jones faced a flurry of shots midway through the period that he stopped successfully but then a turnover right in front of him left him vulnerable. A nice backhand lifted over Jones’ blocker and under the crossbar. Just 11 seconds later Wisconsin scored again when a shot from the high slot bled through Jones.

Penn State hung their heads and gave up at that point, figuring that two goals would sink their chances of winning. Just kidding. Less than a minute later Liam Folkes cut the lead in half when he took a pass from Alex Limoges right out in front of Wisconsin goalie Daniel Lebedeff.

The quick answer helped kill the excitement within the Kohl Center, which had come to life with the two quick Badger goals. With 4:35 to go before the first intermission, a quick pass in front of Peyton Jones took him by surprise, giving up a surprisingly soft goal. Connor MacEachern got a penalty on the next shift and the Lions were down 2 goals and 1 skater.

Penn State was able to kill off the penalty but went to the locker room down two goals. Here are the three Badger first period goals.

Evan Barratt went to the penalty box early in the second period, putting the Lions in a bad spot, but they were able to kill it off. Barratt made up for it a few minutes later when he took the puck into the zone, starting what became a nice scoring possession. Cole Hults kept the puck in and after a centering pass, Liam Folkes scored his second of the night to cut the lead to 3-2 halfway through the game.

To the dismay of the fans in the Kohl Center, who had come to life with the home team leading, Paul DeNaples took a puck off the boards and smashed it in to tie the game at 3 with 8 minutes to go in the second period.

Up to that point the Lions had played pretty well but the Badger lead kept the atmosphere active. With each Penn State goal, the fans seemed to feel the game slipping away. Kevin Wall had a breakaway with 5 minutes to go but Daniel Lebedeff came up big, keeping the game tied.

The teams came out skating with a purpose in the final period, neither side wanting to give up the next goal. Wisconsin had a few quality scoring chances in the opening minutes but Peyton Jones kept the shots to one per trip, controlling the rebounds.

The Lions had several chances to score at the 8 minute mark, keeping the puck in Wisconsin’s zone for over a minute of game time. Finally the Badgers covered the puck to stop the push. Nikita Pavlychev got a great shot from the slot with 6:15 left to play and at that point the Lions led 15-5 in shots on goal in the final period.

Wisconsin had a few scoring chances as play went end to end, neither side wanting to give up a goal but also trying to win the game. With 1:04 to play, Penn State got caught needing a line change and gave up the go-ahead goal. It was a tough way to end a period that the team had dominated.