Penn State extended its regulation losing streak to four on Friday night in Madison. The skid comes on the heels of a ten-game unbeaten streak. The Wisconsin Badgers had a strong third period and quality goaltending when they needed it, and making the opportunistic plays awarded them the 4-2 win in the first game of the series.
Earlier this month, Penn State beat and tied Wisconsin at Pegula Ice Arena and the teams that played in that series seemed to reappear early in this game. Strong offensive pressure from Liam Folkes, Evan Barratt, and Alex Limoges -- arguably the team’s most efficient line, especially lately -- ended with Folkes being credited with the game’s first goal. In the middle of the period, Wisconsin defenseman Tim Davison tied things up, but at the end of the frame, Denis Smirnov scored Penn State’s second and final goal of the night on the power play.
The ice began to tilt in the second period, the only one in which Penn State was outshot. Berry always seems to play at a different level when he faces the Nittany Lions, and despite having played significantly less than fellow goalie Kyle Hayton, his role is something more than just “backup.” Expect Berry to start again tonight; Peyton Jones kept the door shut through the period to maintain a 2-1 lead, but Berry did his job equally well.
Heartbreak came in the latter half of the final 20 minutes, as Josh Ess scored his second goal of the season to knot things at 2, then Will Johnson gave Wisconsin its first lead with less than four minutes to play. Trent Frederic’s empty-netter, just seconds after Folkes rang a shot off of the crossbar, was the icing on the cake as the late collapse cost Penn State a valuable three points in the Big Ten standings.
- Penn State is winless in its last four and has been outscored 16-5 in that span.
- I’ll have a more thorough note about the Big Ten standings tomorrow since every team is in action again tonight, but after Friday’s game, Penn State's and Wisconsin are tied right in the middle.
- This was Penn State’s first loss to Wisconsin since last March, having beaten the Badgers in their last four tries.
- The teams will meet again at 8 P.M. tonight to finish off the series. BTN2Go and Fox Sports-Wisconsin will have the game and we’ll have a recap up here after its conclusion.