Series Grades: Penn State vs Wisconsin
With three Big Ten series played this season, Penn State has yet to pull off a series sweep. With such a hot start to the season, the Nittany Lions have struggled to keep up momentum in tough conference play. Here’s how they played in a shout-out win and a loss in a series against Wisconsin.
The offense has been the focal point for the Nittany Lions this season and continued to be here. Penn State scored eight goals against the 19th-ranked goaltender in the country. Penn State shot 65 times in the series with Liam Folkes leading the team with three goals. Enforcer Nikita Pavlychev also scored two goals over the weekend.
While continuing to be a high-scoring team, the Nittany Lions were unable to offensively close out either game this weekend, as they became stagnant late in both games. The shootout win Friday, however, proved the offense is still dominant enough to pull away close contests.
While Penn State’s offense stayed strong this past weekend, Wisconsin’s proved more dominant. The Badgers tallied 71 total shots in the series and scored on 11 of them. Ten of those goals were let up by Nittany Lion goalie Peyton Jones on 60 saves, including a highlight stick save in the process.
Jones and the defense impressed late Friday, keeping the Badgers scoreless after the second period, which eventually allowed Penn State to pull out the win in a shootout. It was embarrassing for them the next night, however, as Wisconsin went to score five unanswered points to end up finishing the game with a three-goal lead over Penn State. The defense can’t seem to find a way to stay strong when the offense is stagnant.
It was not a pretty series for the Nittany Lions. This series marked the third and fourth straight times Penn State has let up the first goal of the game. This series also broke a seven-game streak of scoring on power plays for the Nittany Lions.
After tying up the game in the second period of the first game, the Nittany Lions were unable to find the net for the entirety of the third and then overtime.
In the second game of the series, Penn State lead 5-3 before the Badgers came back to score five unanswered goals. After just scraping by Wisconsin in a shootout win Friday, it became clear the Nittany Lions weren’t able to withstand the Badgers' pressure for long. They choked in many different ways throughout the series and weren’t able to capitalize on momentum or advantage.
It was perhaps the most disappointing Big Ten series the Nittany Lions have had so far. The Nittany Lions return to Pegula this coming weekend to host Notre Dame in another Big Ten series. If they hope to finish stronger than they have as of late, they need to find a way to be more consistent on offense and they need to be able to count on their defense to close out games. Most importantly, they need to ride the momentum and not go cold late in games.
Francesco de Falco is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.