Series Preview: Penn State vs. Wisconsin
First-round picks Cole Caufield and Dylan Holloway will take a trip to Hockey Valley this weekend, as No. 12 Wisconsin challenges red-hot Penn State.
Penn State has won seven of its last nine games and has appeared to turn the tide on its season.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky has been encouraged by the Nittany Lions’ recent success but has also reminded his team it needs to stick to its identity.
“Before each game, we have certain objectives we want to hit,” Gadowsky said. “There have been games where we have lost but have been happy with our play. Vice versa, there have been games we won but did not perform well with what we could control.”
One game the Nittany Lions likely reached their objectives but didn’t get the result they wanted was Game 1 vs. Wisconsin earlier this season. Penn State outshot the Badgers 52-20 but somehow lost the scoreboard battle 6-3.
The Badgers would end up scoring 13 goals in two games that weekend, including a Caufield hat trick in Game 2.
“Oh, boy,” was the response Gadowsky had when asked what they could improve on from that difficult weekend. “There is so much. It was a number of things, but in all three zones, we didn’t care for the puck.”
After finishing last in the Big Ten a year ago, the Badgers now find themselves coming into this weekend ranked second in the standings with a conference record of 6-4.
Despite the rich history of Wisconsin’s program, the Nittany Lions lead the all-time series 20-15-3, including the 11-5-1 advantage at Pegula Ice Arena.
Caufield and senior Linus Weissbach lead the way for Wisconsin with 17 points in 14 games. With all that star power, the Badgers are always a threat to score, particularly on the power play. Their 26.3% conversion rate has them fourth in the nation.
As for Penn State, we knew senior captain Alex Limoges was going to be an impact player. But sophomore Kevin Wall has stolen the show with his breakout season. Wall has six goals and 13 points in 14 games played, including six points in his last four games.
“I’ve been keeping it simple,” Wall said. “Part of my success comes from my two linemates [Aarne] Talvitie and [Connor] McMenamin.”
Wall also stated that he was playing with more confidence.
“It’s a completely different game out there,” he said. “You're not gripping the stick too tight or nervous with the puck. It almost feels like the game just goes along a bit better for you.”
Limoges, meanwhile, is one goal shy of 50 in his career, and he’ll likely get it this weekend.
The Badgers may have too much offensive firepower for a Penn State sweep, but the Nittany Lions should come out of the series with at least one victory.
Game 1: Wisconsin 5, Penn State 3
Game 2: Penn State 3, Wisconsin 2
Kyle Cannillo is a broadcast journalism major at Penn State. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.