No. 6 Penn State vs. Wisconsin Preview
Kyle Cannillo, Derek Heid and Tyler Olson discuss this weekend's matchup against Wisconsin:
Following a series split on the road last weekend against fifth-ranked Ohio State, the Big Ten’s highest
ranked team, the sixth-ranked ranked Nittany Lions will head to Madison, Wisconsin for a conference showdown with
Wisconsin beginning Friday night.
Wisconsin will be Penn State’s first unranked opponent since a Nov. 10 win in Pittsburgh over
Robert Morris, but the Badgers have played well recently, tying both games of a series at 15th-ranked
Michigan last weekend. Led by underclassmen K’Andre Miller and Wyatt Kalynuk, who are each
averaging around 0.8 points per game. Sophomore Linus Weissbach has also been a key contributor. Despite playing only six games due to injury, the Swede has totaled eight points, With this addition, the Badgers have a potentially lethal top line and power play unit.
Penn State has had an impressive start to the season, but if there is a weakness in the Nittany
Lions game, it's defense. The Nittany Lions have allowed over 3.5 goals per game, which ranks in the
top five worst among all Division I teams. If there is one thing the team has certainly not had an
issue with, it's scoring goals, and scoring them in highlight reel fashion. The Lions have scored
a jaw-dropping 69 goals this season, easily first in all of NCAA hockey. In fact, the team with the
second most goals, Arizona State, has just 54 and has played three more games than Penn
State. For reference, Penn State is averaging 5.3 goals per game this season, and the NHL
goals per game leader, the Colorado Avalanche, have averaged just 3.8.
The Nittany Lions and Badgers played each other very tough last year, with each team winning
and tying one game on the other’s home ice. Although the Badgers are one of the three Big Ten
teams to not be ranked, alongside Michigan State and Minnesota, and received just three votes for the
rankings this past week. They are a team with much potential that Penn State cannot overlook.
The Big Ten was expected by many analysts to be the best conference in college hockey this
year, and the teams have lived up to the hype; it is the only conference in which every team is
either ranked or received votes for the rankings. As a result, Wisconsin has had a very
tough schedule, and has more potential and skill than their 5-7-2 record would indicate.
Penn State will need to continue its offensive ways in order to be successful this weekend,
and will need a big series from sophomore forwards Evan Barratt and Alex Limoges, as well as
juniors Nikita Pavlychev, Nate Sucese and Brandon Biro. Additionally, the goaltending tandem
of Peyton Jones and Chris Funkey will need to step up, as Wisconsin will attempt to take
advantage of Penn State’s lackluster abilities at keeping the puck out of the net.
Jeremy Schooler is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and business. To contact him,