Nittany Lions Looking For A Bounceback; Face Critical Series Against Badgers
The Penn State Nittany Lions return to Pegula Ice Arena this weekend to battle the Wisconsin Badgers. After failing to secure any points in Ann Arbor, Penn State gets its next chance against the team allowing the second-most goals in the Big Ten.
The Badgers have allowed 73 goals this season only behind the Nittany Lions who have conceded 77. Finding productive offense has been a struggle for the red and white. Wisconsin has scored the fewest goals in the conference (51).
Confidence is mounting for the Badgers though as they are coming off a sweep over Michigan State. The successful weekend for Wisconsin has propelled it past the Spartans in the standings.
The last time the Nittany Lions and Badgers did battle, the teams split a two-game set in Madison. Wisconsin took the opener handedly, 4-1. However, Penn State retaliated in the second matchup to claim a 5-4 overtime victory.
Freshman defender Carson Ceulemans is the leading point-getter for the Badgers entering the weekend. He has tallied four goals and 16 points on the year.
Only one player for Wisconsin has a positive plus-minus rating coming into Happy Valley. Sophomore forward Carson Bantle beholds a plus-four rating on a team that has allowed 22 more goals than it has scored.
A bright spot for Wisconsin has been its primary goaltender. Netminder Jared Moe has started 17 games for the Badgers and possesses a 2.50 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. Moe could get the bulk of the work this weekend as this series proves to be a must-win for both sides.
After not being available for the Notre Dame series, Ryan Kirwan re-entered the lineup for the blue and white for the Michigan trip.
“I think the thing I like most about him is his attention to detail,” coach Gadowsky said. “He has really impressed.”
Kirwan potted an assist in each game in Ann Arbor and continues to be a dominant driving force for the Nittany Lions this season.
Penn State did not have any update to give on the status of Connor MacEachern when Gadowsky took to the podium Tuesday night.
Even though the Nittany Lions failed to find victory in Michigan, they played hard against a top program in the nation.
“I believe we took some big steps this past weekend,” said freshman forward Danny Dzhaniyev.
The inefficient offense of the Badgers is concerning with the way Oskar Autio has played as of late. Autio has proven to be one of Penn State’s best players as of late.
This series is going to consist of tight checking and back-and-forth play through the neutral zone. The objective for Wisconsin is to muck up the middle of the ice and keep Penn State to the perimeter. The Nittany Lions will have to use their speed to make the Badger defense uncomfortable.
Penn State’s speed will prove to be too much for the Wisconsin squad. The Nittany Lions have found a groove and will continue to build upon it this weekend.
Prediction: Penn State sweeps
Evan Popalis is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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