The Matchup: No. 17 Wisconsin vs. Penn State
When: Friday, Dec. 6, 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 7, 8 p.m.
Where: Madison, Wis. – Kohl Center (15,359)
Ice Sheet: 200' x 93’
TV: Fox Sports Wisconsin alternate
Radio: WIBA – 1310 AM (or other Badger Radio Network affiliates)
All-Time Series: Series tied 1-1-0
About the Nittany Lions
Head Coach: Guy Gadowsky, second season (16-21-1)
Notable: PSU junior forward Max Gardiner is the brother of former Badger defenseman Jake Gardiner
Points: Eric Scheid – 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists)
Goals: Scheid - 6 goals
Assists: David Goodwin - 5 assists
Save Pct: Matthew Skoff - .910
Goals Against Average: Skoff – 2.85 GAA
Head Coach: Mike Eaves, 12th season (235-172-52)
Notable: UW head coach Mike Eaves has connections to Pennsylvania, having spent two stints as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers (1988-90 & 1993-94), two seasons as head coach of the AHL's Hershey Bears (1991-93) and three seasons as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1997-2000)
Points: Michael Mersch –11 points (6 goals, 5 assists)
Goals: Mersch - 6 goals
Assists: Mark Zengerle – 9 assists
Save Pct: Joel Rumpel - .922
Goals Against Average: Rumpel – 2.34 GAA
Quick analysis: The Badgers may have been ranked second in the nation in the preseason polls and picked by many to win the Big Ten, but they are yet to play like it.
Yes, there have been glimpses of whatever team the pundits were envisioning when they showed this squad with praise at the onset of the season.
Yes, the schedule has been brutal – all but two of Wisconsin’s games have been against ranked opponents, including a pair on the road against the nation’s top-ranked team last weekend.
Yes, it is difficult to establish a rhythm with bye weeks scattered throughout the opening portion of the schedule.
No, it’s not easy losing your starting goaltender early in the year.
While those are all legitimate excuses, this team is still underperforming. It’s that simple.
There are to be no excuses this weekend. This Penn State club may not be a pushover, but this is a winnable home series for the Cardinal and White and they need to show up. None of this sliding by and being happy with two wins against an inferior squad or letting the Nittany Lions hang around just long enough to ruin the weekend and sneak out of Madison with a conference win, UW needs to win both games this weekend and look damn good doing so.
If the Badgers team the experts thought they saw on paper at the beginning of the season does exist, it would be in their best interest to make an appearance this weekend.
Prediction: Split Friday: UW 4-2; Saturday: PSU 4-3