Penn State Survives Wisconsin Comeback Effort, Wins 5-4 for Series Split
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A 4-1 lead evaporated to a 4-3 lead in a snap, but Penn State (8-8) was able to hold off No. 12 Wisconsin (9-7) 5-4 on Friday night and salvage a split in the two-game series.
Connor McMenamin tied a program record with five points on the evening and gained the first star of the game with a goal and four assists.
“McMenamin had an excellent game,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “He plays the right way. I love it when guys like that have offensive success.”
The Nittany Lions started out with a bit of an extra spark, as it took less than three minutes for them to get on the board in Game 2.
Aarne Talvitie scored his sixth goal of the season at 2:54 on assists from McMenamin and Long Island native Christian Sarlo, and Penn State had the early 1-0 lead.
Then, just 13 seconds later, Kevin Wall snuck the biscuit past Cameron Rowe, and in the blink of an eye, Penn State was up 2-0 and relentlessly attacking the Badgers.
The Nittany Lions weren’t done for the period just yet. Mike Vorlicky was called for high-sticking at 12:18 of the opening frame, and that penalty was killed off at 14:18.
But just 15 seconds later, at 14:33, Wisconsin got a bench minor for too many men on the ice, and Penn State went back on the man advantage. That’s when the power-play unit went to work.
Talvitie went bardown on Cameron Rowe at 15:40 for his seventh goal of the year and second of the night, and the lead became 3-0 for the Nittany Lions. That’s how the first period ended on the scoreboard.
After that Talvitie goal, Rowe was pulled from the game, and Michigan Tech graduate transfer Robbie Beydoun took over between the pipes for Tony Granato’s team.
The second period saw a lot of action as well, with both sides coming out fast and hungry.
Edmonton Oilers draft pick Dylan Holloway was able to get behind the Penn State defense on a breakaway for his third goal of the season at 7:09, and the Badgers made it a 3-1 hockey game.
Then, a little over two minutes later, Clayton Phillips added his name to the stat sheet with his second goal of the season at 9:14, and the Penn State lead was back up to three at 4-1.
Both sides continued to acquire “Grade A” chances, but nothing was sticking, and the second period ended with the Nittany Lions leading the Badgers 4-1.
The first half of the third period resulted in quite a bit of dump-and-chase for Penn State, which smothered the Badgers as soon as they touched the puck, leaving very little room to operate.
But the Badgers did not go down quietly.
Roman Ahcan’s goal down low at 10:26 for his second of the season made it a 4-2 game, and the momentum was beginning to swing.
Ty Pelton-Byce then cut the Penn State lead to 4-3 at 12:02 with his fourth tally of the season, as he was able to rip one past Autio. Suddenly, it was a brand-new contest.
The Badgers began to pester Autio as the clock melted even more, but he made some crucial saves with under four minutes to play to keep it a one-goal game. McMenamin nailed the empty net at 18:25 to give Penn State its two-goal lead back at 5-3, and surely the game was over, right?
Nope. Montreal Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield squeaked one past Autio at 19:15, and 5-3 became 5-4.
But Autio made one final stop with 7.4 seconds remaining, and the Nittany Lions were able to survive by the skin of their teeth.
The Nittany Lions return to Pegula Ice Arena next Thursday, Jan. 28, with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish coming to town for a two-game series. Puck drop for both games has yet to be announced.
Christopher Hess is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.