Penn State Falls to Wisconsin in Second Game to Split Series
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Josh Ess scored twice Saturday, leading Wisconsin to a 7-3 upset of Penn State on the Nittany Lions’ senior night.
Ess unleashed a snipe from out near the blue line as Penn State was starting to gain momentum down 3-1 in the latter half of the second period. Tarek Baker followed that up with a breakaway goal at 18:09 in the second that would put victory well out of Penn State’s reach.
The Badgers used a physical brand of defense to take Penn State out of its element and hold the Nittany Lions to just nine shots in the first period and 13 in the second. It also drew a major penalty on Kevin Kerr for a facemask and game misconduct on Alex Stevens for a hit to the head on Baker.
Despite 12 total penalties for a combined 38 minutes on Penn State and Wisconsin, both teams went 0-4 on the power play.
A goal from Chase Berger in the waning moments of the second period kept Penn State’s hopes alive, but an acrobatic goal from Matthew Freytag as he fell to the ground at 1:07 in the third made it 6-2. It also led Guy Gadowsky to pull Peyton Jones from the crease and give Chris Funkey some work on his senior night.
“You always want to look for different systematic answers, and I honestly think tonight the difference was one team was ready to compete and one team wasn’t,” Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said after the loss. “They changed their mentality, and we changed our mentality too.”
Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato said just about as much when asked what adjustments he made between Friday night and Saturday night.
“We competed. We tried harder,” Granato said. “That’s pretty much it.”
Wisconsin outshot Penn State 43-41 while Penn State won the faceoff battle 36-32.
Brandon Biro put one in for Penn State with 6:30 left in the game, bringing the score to 6-3, but that would be the end of the scoring for the Nittany Lions.
It was a stark reversal of Friday night’s 8-2 Penn State victory, one that makes both games at Norte Dame next week effectively must-wins for the Nittany Lions to get home ice in the Big Ten quarterfinals.
“We were kind of in a similar boat last year against Minnesota,” Berger said Saturday. “We’ve just got to find a way to do it for each other. We’ve got no choice.”
With the loss, Penn State will stay at 32 points and fifth in the Big Ten standings heading into the final weekend of the regular season. The first place team in the regular season gets a bye in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament while the two, three and four seeds host quarterfinal games.
Notre Dame and Michigan are tied at 34 points for third in the Big Ten while Minnesota sits at second with 36 and Ohio State leads the pack with 43 points.
Tyler Olson is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. To contact him, email email@example.com.