Series Preview: Penn State vs. Wisconsin

Story posted November 23, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Christopher Hess

After two losses to Minnesota, No. 10 Penn State (0-2) returns to the ice to take on No. 14 Wisconsin (2-2) in a battle at LaBahn Arena in Madison on Nov. 23 and Nov. 24.

The Nittany Lions had lost 12 players from last season’s Big Ten championship team, and a number of freshmen were thrown into the fire against one of the most historic programs in the nation on a bigger sheet of ice.

Guy Gadowsky was proud of the freshmen for adjusting on the fly and not psyching themselves out in their first few games.

“I actually was impressed with all our freshmen, every one of them,” Gadowsky said. “I thought all new players looked very comfortable.”

Some of those new players included Nashville Predators draft selection Chase McLane, Christian Sarlo, Jared Westcott and Christian Berger.

Sarlo tallied his first goal as a Nittany Lion in the 3-2 loss in the second game against the Gophers, and the others were able to play at a high tempo, getting shots on goal and completing their assignments.

Kevin Wall continued his dominance over Minnesota, notching two more goals in the series. Each of the goals in his career have been against the Golden Gophers.

The Nittany Lions also have two options to choose from between the pipes, as Oskar Autio and Liam Soulière split the two Minnesota games and both performed well in Gadowsky’s eyes.

“I think one of the encouraging aspects of this past weekend for us, even though we lost twice, was I thought both goaltenders played extremely well,” Gadowsky said.

Now Gadowsky’s team will have to shift its focus to a Wisconsin squad that prides itself on an explosive offense, doing so with 10 NHL draft picks, most notably first rounders Cole Caufield and Dylan Holloway.

Caufield, a 2019 first-round choice of the Montreal Canadiens, is one of the game’s future superstars, and Holloway, a 2020 first-round choice of the Edmonton Oilers, has a hard shot and plays extremely physical.

Caufield hasn’t registered a goal yet but is second in points with four. Linus Weissbach is the points leader with five.

The Nittany Lions will have their work cut out for them, as Wisconsin typically goes with five forwards on a power play, so Gadowsky’s team will need to limit penalties and ensure that the Badgers’ playmakers become non-entities.

“The problem with [Wisconsin] is that those five forwards are extremely skilled,” Gadowsky said. “Obviously it runs through No. 8 Cole Caufield. He’ll have the puck more than anybody.”

Captain Tyler Inamoto leads the Wisconsin defense. The 2017 fifth-round pick of the Florida Panthers plays with a mean, aggressive attitude that radiates to those around him.

Robbie Beydoun has given Wisconsin some much needed stability in net through four games after coming over from Michigan Tech as a graduate transfer.

That stability is something that this Badgers team has been missing over the past few years, as former netminder Daniel Lebedeff simply wasn’t getting the job done with .893 and .892 save percentages in his two years as the starter.

Both Penn State and Wisconsin are still trying to work out some kinks in this unusual season, and they are meeting up with each other at the right time. The two sides are very familiar with each other and have produced some memorable moments over the years. Expect more of the same, as this should be an extremely fun and entertaining series where talent will be on full display.

Prediction: 1-1 split

Game 1: Penn State 3, Wisconsin 2

Game 2: Wisconsin 4, Penn State 3

 

Christopher Hess is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email christopherhess22@gmail.com.