Wisconsin Game Grades
No.19 Penn State welcomed the Wisconsin Badgers for an all-important series in the Big Ten. It was a tale of two games for both sides as the Nittany Lions won the first game 8-2 behind Denis Smirnov’s monster performance. Smirnov had a 4-point night with two goals and two assists.
In game two, however, it was all Wisconsin from start to finish. The Badgers got up 3-0 in the second period after Linus Weissbach scored a goal on a bad angle shot, and Wisconsin was able to hold on for the win 7-3. The inconsistencies continue for the Nittany Lions, and now have an uphill battle next week in South Bend against Notre Dame.
Here are the game grades for this weekend:
Penn State’s offense looked great in Friday’s win after Brandon Biro and Smirnov combined for four of the eight Nittany Lion goals. Also, Cole Hults got in on the mix with a goal and two assists.
After Wisconsin tied it up 2-2, Penn State scored six unanswered goals in this game propelling them to this convincing win. The Nittany Lions outshot the Badgers 56-31 and spent most of the time in the offensive zone.
In game two of this series, it was a totally different story. Penn State had plenty of opportunities in the first period, but they couldn’t take advantage of the power play. Penn State went 0-4 on the power play for the game and Wisconsin’s intensity and physicality flustered the Nittany Lions offense.
The incredible play of Wisconsin goaltender Daniel Lebedeff gave the Badgers momentum. The only bright spot for the offense in this game was that Chase Berger scored on his senior day.
Defensively, Penn State continued to struggle. Although they dominated in the first game of this series, in the second game the inconsistencies continued.
Behind the play of Josh Ess and Weissbach, the Badgers were able to confuse the Nittany Lions defense. Wisconsin spent a lot of time in the offensive zone, and Penn State struggled to get the puck out of its own zone.
Penn State didn’t match the physicality of Wisconsin, which was the difference in game two of this series. The Badgers had multiple breakaways at the net and took advantage of them all game long.
Peyton Jones got the nod in both games of this series. In game one Jones played well, only allowing two goals on 31 shots. He made some big saves giving the Nittany Lions the momentum they needed.
In game two, however, Jones struggled with the Wisconsin offensive rush. Jones allowed six goals and only had 25 saves and got pulled out of the game early in the third period for the senior Chris Funkey. Although the defense struggled in the second game of this series, Jones could have made some key saves to keep the Nittany Lions in the game.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky has to be disappointed with how his team played on Saturday night. The Nittany Lions had all the momentum coming into the game after the 8-2 convincing win on Friday and just came out flat from opening puck drop on Saturday.
Some of that blame has to be on the coach for not getting his guys ready to play on a consistent basis. Gadowsky and the team have to put this series behind them and lock in next weekend on the road against Notre Dame.
Matthew McClure is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact, email firstname.lastname@example.org.