Despite a late third period surge, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team could not overcome a one goal deficit to 14th ranked Penn State Friday night, as they fell 2-1 at the Kohl Center.
Penn State’s power play unit was on display in the first period of play. After 90 seconds on the man advantage with no shots on goal, Wisconsin’s Eddie Wittchow broke his stick and was forced to defend without one.
Penn State passed nicely around the stick-less Wittchow and buried a power play goal from Andrew Sturtz to put Penn State up 1-0 in the first period.
Wisconsin and their deadly first line would answer quickly, with sophomore Cameron Hughes corralling a puck behind Penn State’s net and dishing it to a wide open Luke Kunin who put a one-timer home to tie the game at 1-1.
Here is the video of Kunin’s goal: LINK
It was the freshman Kunin’s 16th goal of the year. He leads the team. He almost had his 17th minutes later with a shot at a wide open net when Penn State’s Eamon McAdam sprawled across his net just getting a stick on the puck keeping it at 1-1
McAdam had 26 saves on the night.
Freshman Will Johnson had a golden opportunity to put Wisconsin up a goal in the second period after a misplayed puck from McAdam left Johnson all alone with a wide open net to shoot on. Johnson slipped up for a second and was tracked down before he had a chance to get a shot on net.
Jedd Soleway flew in late throwing the puck on late and it danced near the line but McAdam had recovered by then, saving the Nittany Lions and preserving the tie.
Seconds later in a two goal swing, Penn State had a two on zero rush and Tommy Olcyzk tucked a backhand top shelf past Adam Miller to put Penn State up 2-1 going into the third.
With a slow start to the third period, Wisconsin looked almost dead in the water with little offense to speak off in the final frame.
With just around four minutes left however, the Badgers started to buzz just a bit putting immense pressure on Penn State’s defense and McAdam. Wisconsin held the puck in Penn State’s zone for about two straight minutes peppering McAdam but had nothing to show for it as McAdam covered up with 2:11 left in the game.
As Head Coach Mike Eaves said after the game, “It would have been nice to see that (pressure) the entire game”.
After matching minors and then a cross checking called on Penn State, the Badgers had its first power play of the night with exactly 1:00 left. A four on three advantage they turned into a five on three advantage with Miller pulled.
Kunin, Hughes, Besse, Schulze and Wagner set up a beautiful power play getting three quality looks at the net but none fell and Penn State clung on to a final score of 2-1.
“Kids did what we asked them to do…They did the things we wanted to do, but didn’t come up with that timely goal again.” Eaves said.
Miller, a senior, who got the start in goal tonight for Wisconsin posted 28 saves on the night.
Eaves spoke that this choice to start Miller was something he and the captains decided on Monday. Matt Juruisk will be back in goal tomorrow night.
Seniors Eddie Wittchow, Adam Miller and Kevin Schulze play their last home game tomorrow night as Wisconsin takes on Penn State in the regular season home finale at 7 pm.