ST PAUL, MN - MARCH 21: Matthew Skoff #31 of the Penn State Nittany Lions blocks a shot by Tyler Barnes #7 of the Wisconsin Badgers as Luke Juha #4 of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on during the third period of the semifinal game of the Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Championship on March 21, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. The Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions 2-1. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Badgers Hockey Preview: UW and Penn State set for rematch

The Matchup: Wisconsin vs. Penn State
Dates: Friday-Saturday, February 6-7 5:30/1 p.m CT
Location: University Park, PA. Pegula Ice Arena
Ice Surface: 200’ X 85’
TV: Friday BTN Network. Saturday: ASN
Radio: WIBA AM 1310
Video Stream: BTN2go.com/BTN2go app
Audio Stream: Badgersportsnetwork.com (Free)
All-Time Series: UW leads 6-3-0
Last Meeting: 4-2 PSU over Wisconsin

 

About Penn State

Record: 13-7-4, 5-2-1-0 in the Big Ten
Head Coach: Guy Gadowsky (3rd season – 34-47-6)
Notable: After ending in dead last in the Big Ten standings last year, Penn State has completely turned it around. They currently sit tied for the 2nd position, five points behind Michigan. They have won three of their last four outings. (the fourth was a 5-5 tie against Northern Michigan)

 

Stat Leaders:

Points: Casey Bailey (29)
Goals: Casey Bailey (18)
Assists: Taylor Holstrom (19)
Save Pct.: P.J Musico (.926)
Goals Against Average: P.J Musico (2.23)

 

About Wisconsin:

Record: 2-16-4 Overall, 0-6-2-2 in Big Ten Conference
Head Coach: Mike Eaves (13th Season – 257-196-57)
Notable: The Badgers are coming off of one of their better performances just a weekend ago after skating to a tie with The University of Minnesota. Despite Minnesota’s stumble, they are a talented team and the Badgers played a lot of good hockey in that series. They were swept at home by Penn State earlier this year and sit at the bottom of the Big Ten standings.

 

Stat Leaders:

Points: Grant Besse (16)
Goals: Grant Besse (9)
Assists: Joseph LaBate (8)
Save Pct.: Joel Rumpel (.894)
Goals Against Average: Joel Rumpel (3.80)

 

Quick Analysis:

Badgers head coach Mike Eaves stressed at Monday’s press conference that his team is headed in the right direction.

“When we walk out on the ice there is nobody screaming and yelling at the kids or the coaching staff, and the number one reason is because they’re seeing growth and effort.”

This growth will be measured in the upcoming series against a Penn State team that is the surprise of the Big Ten. After ending last season with a total of three wins, the Nittany Lions have surpassed anyone’s expectations and come into the series with thirteen wins and a second place standing in the Big Ten.

Two of those thirteen wins came curtsey of a sweep of the Badgers in the beginning of December. Penn State handled the Badgers with ease winning 5-2 and 4-2 for the sweep.

Eaves says that a lot has changed sense the two teams played

“That’s a long time in the life of a freshman hockey player. They have played a lot more games and been through a lot more practices, and they understand school and the social responsibilities that they have”

Another major difference is the emergence of sophomore Grant Besse as a team leader.

Besse struggled earlier in the season, not knowing exactly what his role should be in a young team and often forcing the issue. Ever since the away series against Minnesota he has been on an absolute tear propelling him to be the team leader in goals and points.

The only thing this Badger team has been lacking is recent games is a win. They won in a shootout against Minnesota, but officially, they are stuck at two wins on the season.

A win in this series could really validate all of the progression Coach Eaves and fans have been seeing.

 

Prediction:

Friday: Wisconsin 3 Penn State 1

Saturday: Wisconsin 1 Penn State 3

I’m calling a classic split here. Call me optimistic, but the Badgers have been improving and are far over due in the win column. The first line of Besse, LaBate, and Ryan Wagner will need to produce for the Badgers to get a win.

Sawyer Bock

About Sawyer Bock

Sawyer is a Sophomore at UW-Madison majoring in Communication Arts and a beat writer for the UW- Men's Hockey Team. You can catch him on UW-Madison's student radio WSUM where he hosts a sports talk show and broadcasts numerous varieties of Badger sports or on twitter @YoungSawyer_

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