Casey Bailey and the Nittany Lions have their eyes set on the Badgers

Story posted February 5, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Ryan Ruff

After a big win in their final non-conference game against the No. 14 ranked Vermont Catamounts, the Nittany Lions are gearing up for a flurry of Big 10 play. Guy Gadowsky’s squad welcomes the Wisconsin Badgers to Hockey Valley for an important weekend series.

The Lions currently sit in 2nd place in the Big Ten standings with a 5-2-1 record and are 13-7-4 overall. From here on out, it is nothing but crucial conference games for this young program.

On the other side of things, Wisconsin enters the coming weekend with an uncharacteristic 2-16-4 overall record. On top of that, the Badgers have been unable to manufacture a single conference win all season.

Throughout the year, the Badgers have been riding senior goaltender Joel Rumpel, who has the program’s only 2 wins. Despite his poor record and 3.80 goals against average, Rumpel is not a stranger to success. Last year, he was a Hobey Baker top-10 finalist and finished the year with career high in wins (21), saves (773), and save percentage (92.9%).

It’s obvious that Rumpel’s play between the pipes isn’t the problem for this team. Defense is. Not a single player on the Badgers is positive in the plus/minus category. In fact, two of the team’s best defensemen, Jack Dougherty and Kevin Schulze, combine to be -42. With numbers like that, it can be immensely difficult for the Wisconsin offense to generate goals and keep their opponents off of the scoring sheet.

Heading into this weekend’s series, the game plan for the Nittany Lions doesn’t change. Since day one, Guy Gadowsky has preached the importance of shots on goal. Penn State leads the NCAA in shots per game, and they plan on exploiting the struggling Badger defense.

Leading goal scorer, Casey Bailey, tallied his 18th goal and 11th assist in Saturday’s contest. Gadowsky told the media earlier in the week that he has been really proud of the way Bailey and his line mate Taylor Holstrom have improved their game and earned Hobey Baker nominations.

“Casey has great instincts for scoring goals, but he has equally as great instincts in finding lanes, sealing walls and doing a lot of things without the puck,” said Gadowsky. “I think the nomination is great for Casey and Taylor and also the program.”

This weekend’s action will take place on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. The Nittany Lions are also encouraging a White Out game for this Friday night. You can catch the live play-by-play of these two games on ComRadio beginning with the Comradio Penn State Men’s Hockey Pregame Show at 6 p.m. on Friday and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. 

Ryan Ruff is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email ryanruff8@gmail.com