The first time Penn State faced off against Wisconsin this season, things did not go well. The Lions were swept in Madison by final scores of 6-3 and 7-3 and just generally looked wildly overmatched. However, this is not the same Penn State team that was embarrassed by the Badgers in the second series of the season.
Still, avenging the early season sweep will not be easy. Here are the big things that Guy Gadowksy's squad must do in order to get revenge in Happy Valley.
Control Cole Caufield
Everyone in the hockey world knows what Cole Caufield is capable of. He has an elite shot and is an elusive, fast skater. He is going to be the most dangerous player on the ice. While he only registered 2 goals on 24 shots during the World Junior Championships, he scored 4 of his team's 13 goals in the previous two-game series between these two teams (including a hat trick in Game Two). The Penn State defense cannot afford to give him that much time and space this time around, or the scoreline could get ugly.
Collapse In the Slot
Penn State hasn't been the stoutest team defensively in 2020-2021, however, the defense unit has gotten better at blocking shots and taking away passing lanes. The Lions had a tough time defending the Badgers the first time around because they were always moving in the offensive zone. For Penn State to combat this, they must be able to quickly crash the area below the face-off circles so that no one gets free in the middle of the ice. Penn State goalies Oskar Autio and Liam Soulière have been put in too many impossible situations this season, and clamping down on this area should help start to solve that issue.
Get bodies in front of Robbie Beydoun
Penn State needs to score greasy goals in this critical series. All of the goals in Game Two against Michigan State were because of players driving to the front of the net and finding second and third chance opportunities. Beydoun, the Wisconsin goalie, owned Penn State in the first series, stopping 84 of 90 shots. Even if the Lions are able to put up 90 shots again in this time, a good portion of those will need to come from in tight and off of rebounds, in order to free things up later on for snipers like Alex Limoges and Aarne Talivitie.
Penn State and Wisconsin are set for puck drop at 6:00 pm ET on Thursday, January 21 in Pegula Ice Arena. Game Two is set for 6:00 pm ET on Friday, January 22.