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Big Ten Battle: Penn State comes to Madison

The Matchup: Wisconsin vs. Penn State
Dates: Friday-Saturday, December 5th-6th
Location: Kohl Center
Ice Surface: 200’ X 97’
TV: Friday- ESPNEWS, Saturday - TBD
Radio: Friday - WIBA AM 1310; Saturday - WTSO AM 1070
Video Stream: Friday- Watch ESPN, Saturday- BTN2Go.com
Audio Stream: Badgersportsnetwork.com (Free)
All-Time Series: UW leads 6-1-0
Last Meeting: Wisconsin won 2-1

 

About Penn State:

Record: 7-4-2
Head Coach: Guy Gadowsky (3rd Season – 28-44-4)
Notable: After an 8-26-2 Season a year ago Penn State has turned their program around in a positive direction. They already have almost as many wins as last year and are three games above a .500 win percentage.

This comes as no surprise to Wisconsin Head coach, Mike Eaves. At a Monday press conference he spoke highly of the Nittnay Lion hockey team

“You look at their team last year, anybody that played them had fits with them because they were big, they could skate, they had good goaltending. They were missing maybe the game breaker in their lineup”

Penn State may have found that game breaker in the dynamic duo of Forward Taylor Holstrom and Casey Bailey.

Holstrom, a redshirt senior from Yorba Lina, California, has a staggering 14 assists on the year and his partner, Bailey, originally from Anchorage, Alaska, has put in 9 goals.

Veteran leadership has been the name of the game for Penn State who has 17 upper classman on their active roster. They will attempt to remain on the winning side of games as they come to the Kohl Center to battle the Badgers

 

Stat Leaders:

Points: Taylor Holstrom (18)
Goals: Casey Bailey (9)
Assists: Taylor Holstrom (14)
Save Pct.: Matthew Skoff (.919)
Goals Against Average: Matthew Skoff (2.29)

 

About Wisconsin:

Record: 1-8-1
Head Coach: Mike Eaves (13th Season – 256-188-54)
Notable: Wisconsin opens up big ten play after avoiding adding a number to the loss column all weekend against Ferris State. This included the Badgers first win of the season, beating Ferris State 5-3 on Saturday led by two goals from Sophomore Forward Grant Besse.

Head Coach Mike Eaves hopes the win can translate to better play this weekend, “I hope we are a smarter team than we have been.”

The Badgers are reining Big Ten tournament champions and look to start a strong conference campaign against an improved Penn State squad.

One thing that Mike Eaves doesn’t expect to be a problem is effort. He had every member of the Badgers working hard all last weekend.

Corbin McGuire, a redshirt freshman from Ridgefield, Connecticut, in particular showed a lot of effort for Eaves netting the first goal of his career last weekend.

The Badgers will need that type of fight from every line if they want to back up their win and prove to the hockey world that their recent success is not a fluke.

 

 

Stat Leaders:

Points: Grant Besse (6)
Goals: Grant Besse (3)
Assists: 3 tied at 4
Save Pct.: Landon Peterson and Joel Rumpel tied (.900)
Goals Against Average: Joel Rumpel (3.01 GAA)

 

Quick Analysis:

With the Big Ten regular season opening up it will be a great weekend of Hockey as two teams that want to make a name for themselves in the Big Ten square off early on.

Penn State’s major advantage in this matchup is size. The Nittany Lions are big and strong, having 19 players listed at six feet or above to the Badgers 13 six foot or taller players.

This size advantage could be huge for the Lions due to their lack of “star” talent on their roster.

Badger Coach Mike Eave’s realizes that Penn State has improved since their dismal inaugural Big Ten season just a year ago.

“They’re (Penn State) going to be knocking on the door trying to win championships” said Eaves.

The Badgers are another team that has Big Ten title hopes despite a tough start to the season.

The Badgers switch up in lines this past weekend may have been the key to securing that first win of the season.

The new first line now consists of Sophomores Morgan Zulinick and Grant Besse on the wings and senior Joeseph LaBate at center.

The line really gelled well netting a total of 4 points while on the ice together (2 goals 2 assists). The new look first line is dangerously quick and the three players have some of the better wrist shots on the team.

It doesn’t stop there for Wisconsin.

The production is coming from the first to the third line. Wisconsin’s third line played lights out the past weekend; something the Badgers will need again if they plan on sweeping Penn State. Matt Ustaski, a Glenview Illinois freshman tallied a goal and an assist this past weekend and his line mate, freshman Corbin McGuire added a goal as well.

In goal, Joel Rumple played an outstanding couple of games, stopping a total of 64 saves and only 4 goals allowed in two games. He will undoubted be called upon in this series to keep the Badgers alive.

 

 

Prediction: Friday: Wisconsin 4 Penn State 2, Saturday: Wisconsin 3 Penn State 2

The Badgers start getting thing going in the right direction with a home series sweep of the Penn State Nittany Lions. I’m taking pure talent over experience in this one. I think Rumpel stands on his head all weekend. That paired with Besse and LaBate starting to figure out the flow of the team, Badgers sweep Penn State at home.

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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