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No. 17 Penn State vs. No. 6 Wisconsin: Hockey Series Preview

Penn State hits the road in final series before holiday break

Sami Reilly- Penn State Athletics

No. 17 Penn State men’s hockey will play its final two games of 2023 against No. 6 Wisconsin this weekend at the Kohl Center. The Badgers have been one of the biggest surprises of the college hockey season so far under first-year coach Mike Hastings, posting a 12-4 record.

How to Watch

  • Game 1: Friday at 9pm ET on Big Ten Network
  • Game 2: Saturday at 8pm on Big Ten Plus

Opponent Preview

Following a disappointing 13-23 season last year, Wisconsin hired Mike Hastings to replace Tony Granato as head coach. The Badgers’ turnaround has been impressive, including back-to-back sweeps against Minnesota and Michigan. On November 13, Wisconsin was ranked No. 1 in the USCHO poll for the first time since the poll’s inception in 1997. After a three-game losing streak, the Badgers rebounded with a home sweep of struggling Ohio State last weekend.

Sophomore Cruz Lucius leads a deep Wisconsin lineup with 8 goals and 14 points. Lucius is one of seven Badgers to record at least 10 points this season. Owen Lindmark, Mathieu de St. Phalle, and Simon Tassy each have at least five goals, providing several scoring options for Wisconsin’s offense.

Goaltender Kyle McClellan is by far the Badgers’ most improved player, recording a 1.74 GAA and .934 save percentage in 15 starts. Penn State’s relentless offensive pressure will be tested by strong goalie play for the second straight weekend.

Series Notes

  • Penn State leads the all-time series 27-19-3 and has won three straight games at the Kohl Center.
  • Goaltender Noah Grannan is the only Wisconsin native on Penn State’s roster.
  • Penn State is outshooting its opponents by an average of 16 shots per game, by far the widest margin in the country.
  • Wisconsin has the fourth-youngest roster in D1 by average age (21.4).

Prediction

This might be the toughest series Penn State plays in the entire regular season. Although Wisconsin has slowed down a bit since its red-hot start, winning at the Kohl Center will not be easy. I see a split here, with Penn State’s offense and Wisconsin’s goaltending leading the way in each team’s win.

Wisconsin 3-2, Penn State 4-2