Wisconsin men’s hockey team scores four in third period to beat No. 6 Penn State
Being close over the past two weeks had given the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team only a certain amount of satisfaction and only a moderate amount of credit in the Big Ten Conference standings.
Entering Saturday’s finale of a two-game series against No. 6 Penn State at the Kohl Center, the Badgers had held leads in the final 22 minutes in the previous three games, only to allow a goal each time and finish in a tie.
The Badgers gave themselves another chance with a spirited rally Saturday, and they kept scoring to get to the finish line.
K’Andre Miller’s third-period goal gave the Badgers the lead in the second wild swing of the game, part of a five-goal surge in an 8-5 victory over the Nittany Lions.
Tarek Baker added on to the lead and Peter Tischke completed a four-goal third period with an empty-net score as the Badgers ended a five-game winless streak. Combined with Friday’s tie, they won a series for the first time since this season’s opening weekend against Boston College.
“Having the lead and losing it is really tough,” said senior right wing Will Johnson, who scored twice. “Coming back and getting that win is something huge. And for our confidence, I think it’s really helpful.”
After leading by two and then falling behind by two in the second period after Penn State scored four straight, the Badgers came back with Johnson’s second goal of the contest late in the second period and Max Zimmer’s second of the weekend midway through the third to tie the game.
Then Miller gloved down a deflected cross-ice pass from Zimmer and snapped a wrist shot off the post for a 6-5 lead with 7:29 remaining.
“That’s just elite skill right there,” Zimmer said of Miller, a freshman defenseman who had a collegiate-best four-point game with three assists. “To pop it up, catch it and shoot it right in one motion is a pretty tough thing to do.”
Miller’s memory was a little fuzzier. “It all happened too fast, to be honest,” he said.
With the add-on goals, UW (6-7-3, 2-3-3-1 Big Ten) scored eight times for the first time since Nov. 2, 2013, against Lake Superior State. The Badgers scored 11 times in two games against Penn State after getting just 11 goals in their previous eight games.
“We paid a price at the net, that is for sure,” Badgers coach Tony Granato said. “Our ‘D’ jumped into the play at appropriate times. And we just kept coming after them.”
Saturday’s charge came after NCAA scoring leader Penn State (10-4-1, 2-3-1-1) flipped the switch and scored four times in less than 12 minutes of the second period.
Evan Barratt and Liam Folkes scored 49 seconds apart, with an offensive-zone tripping penalty to UW’s Zimmer in between, to bring the teams level at 3-3. It was the fourth time this season the Badgers have allowed two goals in less than a minute.
Nikita Pavlychev put Penn State ahead 4-3, and Sam Sternschein made it four goals in 11:35 with the Nittany Lions’ second power-play score in as many tries. His long shot off the faceoff eluded Badgers goalie Daniel Lebedeff’s glove.
Given his third straight start after making 37 saves in a 3-3 tie on Friday, Lebedeff (14 saves) was pulled after Penn State scored four times on 10 second-period shots.
Jack Berry, who replaced Lebedeff, stopped all six shots he faced as the Badgers didn’t give the Nittany Lions many good looks for the rest of the night.
UW held Penn State to a season-low 25 shots on goal.
Johnson’s power-play goal with 1:15 left in the second period — he stuffed the puck inside the left post after a centering attempt bounced back to him — started the turnaround for the Badgers.
He wasn’t the only UW senior who broke a scoring drought.
Matthew Freytag scored his first goal of the season 2:22 into the contest after going a career-high 15 games without hitting the net.
After scoring only one goal in an eight-game stretch entering the series, UW’s five upperclassman forwards combined for five goals against Penn State.
Folkes scored twice and added an assist for Penn State, the first coming 20 seconds after Freytag’s goal.
But UW got the last surge to win.
“We just had to stick to our game,” Miller said. “Coach has been preaching that to us all year, just saying stick to our game and bounces will come our way. I think we definitely had the ice tilted for that third period.”
Penn State 1 4 0 — 5
Wisconsin 2 2 4 — 8
First period: W — Freytag 1 (J. Dhooghe, Inamoto), 2:22. P — Folkes 7 (Barratt, Limoges), 2:42. W — Johnson 4 (Gorniak, Miller), 18:49. Penalties: Marsh, P, 7:05; Baker, W, 12:23; Sucese, P, 12:23; Stevens, P, 13:54.
Second period: W — Kalynuk 6 (Baker, Inamoto), 1:09. P — Barratt 12 (Limoges, Folkes), 3:16; Folkes 8 (Limoges, Stevens), 4:05 (pp); Pavlychev 9 (Sternschein, Hults), 10:40; Sternschein 5 (Biro, Berger), 14:51 (pp). W — Johnson 5 (Emberson, Kalynuk), 18:45 (pp). Penalties: Zimmer, W, 3:28; Baker, W, 14:46; Stevens, P, 17:21; Sucese, P, 19:17.
Third period: W — Zimmer 4 (Miller, Johnson), 10:15; Miller 3 (Zimmer, J. Dhooghe), 12:31; Baker 4 (S. Dhooghe, Miller), 16:03; Tischke 1 (Ess), 18:05 (en).
Saves: P (Jones 8-10-10) 28; W (Lebedeff 8-6-x, Berry x-1-5) 20. Power plays: P 2-for-2; W 1-for-4. Att. — 10,055.