Penn State Hockey Series Preview: Wisconsin
Joe Murphy, Ben Ferree, and Jason Marcus break down Penn State's weekend series against Wisconsin:
No. 14 Penn State Men’s Hockey heads to Madison this weekend to take on No. 18 Wisconsin. For the Nittany Lions, who are on a three-game skid, this series is vital.
Coming off a sweep by Michigan, Penn State has fallen to fourth in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions currently sit just one point behind Michigan and two points behind Ohio State. If they can sweep Wisconsin, they would have a chance to move back up to second, but allowing another sweep could put them in sixth.
Penn State also needs to get back on a hot streak as it had gone undefeated in 11 straight games leading into the three-game losing streak.
Wisconsin sits just three points behind Penn State in the Big Ten, and are tied with Minnesota for fifth place. Even so, the Badgers have won two of their last three contests including a 5-0 shutout over No. 1 Notre Dame last Sunday.
Wisconsin has had the opposite change of fate, as it had lost each of its last five games, including a 3-3 tie with ending with a shootout loss in Pegula Ice Arena, prior to its most recent three.
The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series between these two teams with a 14-8-1 record including a 13-2-1 tally over the last 16 games. They’ve also taken the majority of games in Madison, with a 6-4-0 record, sweeping Wisconsin 6-4 and 5-2 last season.
Looking to keep the Wisconsin good fortune flowing will be Trent Frederic and Tarek Baker who hold the top two goal totals on the team with 11 and 10 respectively. Ryan Wagner leads the team in points with 22 on nine goals and 13 assists. The Badgers rank No. 15 in the nation in scoring and third in the Big Ten with 3.19 goals per game.
Though Penn State’s scoring has dropped from the top of the nation to ranked third, the Nittany Lions are still putting up 3.77 goals per game and lead the Big Ten.
Penn State Junior Andrew Sturtz will look to make a mark in his 100th career game on Friday. A player with many team records including all-time program scoring and most special teams goals, he sits at 0.95 goals per game which is good for second all-time behind Denis Smirnov with 1.16. Sturtz is ranked No. 3 in the Big Ten and No. 11 in the NCAA with 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) heading into the weekend.
Jack Berry and Kyle Hayton have both been spending their share of time between the pipes recently. Hayton started in Wisconsin’s shutout over Notre Dame and came in in relief of Berry against Penn State in the Badgers’ 5-1 loss, not allowing a goal on 17 saves. Hayton holds more starts between the two goaltenders with an 8-9-3 record and 2.77 goals against per game.
Peyton Jones will be in net for Penn State. He has allowed 2.97 goals per game on a .903 save percentage. His record between the pipes is 12-8-2 in his 23 starts.
This could be a high-stakes series for the Big Ten Standings with Penn State having the most to lose if their skid continues.
Tommy Butler is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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