Series Preview: Penn State vs. Wisconsin
Jordan Hession, Logan Bourandas, Connor Griffin and Christopher Hess preview this week's Big Ten series between the Wisconsin Badgers and Penn State Nittany Lions:
Hockey Valley will be roaring Thursday and Friday as the No. 12 Penn State Nittany Lions (4-1-0) will take on the No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers (4-2-0) in a pivotal series to kick off Big Ten play. Both teams will be looking to make a statement against the best in a year of high expectations.
The last time these two familiar foes saw each other was last year in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals when the higher-seeded Nittany Lions defeated the Badgers two games to one in a three-game set at Pegula. Out of the 13 goals scored for Penn State in the series, only one was scored by a player who didn’t return to the team for this season.
Last season, the Nittany Lions were the favorite but this year the roles will be reversed as the Badgers come in as the higher-ranked squad. Wisconsin is loaded with young talent, having two of this year’s top 10 NHL Draft picks in freshman forwards Alex Turcotte and Cole Caufield.
Caufield, the frontrunner for this year’s Hobey Baker Award, leads the nation in goals at seven. The Badgers are one of two squads in Division I college hockey that have at least four players with seven points or more on the season.
As the Penn State defense is sure to face pressure against the elite Badger scorers, the question will be if the Penn State offense will be able to keep up. Although they’re averaging 4.40 goals per game, they’ve struggled in an impalpable way in their last two games.
After scoring no less than five goals in their first three games, they were routed by Alaska-Fairbanks 4-0 for the second opposing shutout in Pegula’s history.
Last Friday, the Nittany Lions had to rely on their defense to get past a 3-4 Robert Morris squad when they survived a 5-on-3 deficit to win 2-1. Junior forward Alex Limoges, a strong candidate for the Hobey Baker Award heading into the season, hasn’t lived up to the hype yet with only one goal and four points.
The good news for Penn State is its roster depth. When they defeated Alaska-Fairbanks 7-0 earlier this year, each goal was scored by a different player. Freshman forward Connor MacEachern has been efficient so far with two goals in just seven shots and junior Cole Hults is one of few defenders to have four goals on the season.
Another area the Nittany Lions will be able to rely on is their senior goalie Peyton Jones, who did not play in the one loss for the Nittany Lions this season. He has the sixth-best save percentage in the nation at .942, and he’s only allowed seven goals on the season so far.
On the other end, Wisconsin starting goalie Daniel Lebedeff has struggled at times in his sophomore season. He’s already allowed 18 goals and his .890 save percentage is right around average.
Penn State senior Brandon Biro recorded his 100th point last Friday against Robert Morris, and he and his teammates will have to put in 100 percent effort in against the Badgers. Wisconsin will get the puck in the net, so the Penn State vets like Biro and Nate Sucese will have to step up and take advantage of a struggling goalie to answer the charge.
Prediction: 1-1 split
Game 1: Wisconsin 5, Penn State 3
Game 2: Penn State 4, Wisconsin 3
Jack McCune is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Junior / Broadcast Journalism
Hailing from Long Island, Christopher has experience in public address announcing alongside broadcasting volleyball, hockey, baseball, and softball. Chris has been featured on Daylate Tailgate, Comradio’s Sunday College Football recap show, and on a number of podcasts. Chris also writes a number of articles during football and hockey season. Chris is also a co-host on “Hockey Night in State College.” Chris is interested in either play-by-play or public address announcing for a college or professional sports team alongside being a sports radio personality. To contact Chris, email him @firstname.lastname@example.org
Sophomore / Broadcast Journalism
Jack McCune is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism from Yardley, Pennsylvania which is outside of Philly and just across the Delaware River from New Jersey. He attended Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania. He’s a huge fan of the Eagles, Phillies, 76ers, Penn State football and Penn State basketball. He’s a producer for CommRadio News and is involved in CommRadio Sports. His CommRadio show, Broad Street Bros, airs Tuesdays at 7:30. He hopes to some day become a play-by-play announcer for football, basketball and/or baseball and he is also interested in becoming a bartender.
Sophomore / Broadcast Journalism
Junior / Broadcast Journalism Minoring in History