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Penn State puts 51 shots on goal, routs Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team to even Big Ten playoff series

March 10, 2019

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State had one of its best players suspended for Game 2 of the Big Ten Conference quarterfinals against the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team on Saturday.

It didn’t matter. An unrelenting Nittany Lions offense delivered blow after blow to extend the series to the limit and vaporize the Badgers’ four-game winning streak.

A four-goal second period, fueled by a goal and an assist each from Liam Folkes and Brandon Biro, led No. 18 Penn State to a 6-2 victory over the Badgers at Pegula Ice Arena.

Without center Evan Barratt, who was handed a one-game suspension by the league Saturday afternoon for an illegal hit on UW defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk a night earlier, Penn State didn’t miss a beat, forcing a deciding Game 3 today that will end the season for the loser. The winner will play top seed Ohio State in the semifinals.

Alex Limoges scored twice, the first tying the game 1-1 in the first period and the last when things were already decided in the third. UW paid a price for spending most of the game in its defensive zone against the nation’s best offensive team.

“They were more desperate, more urgent, more committed,” Badgers coach Tony Granato said. “Just had better jump than us tonight, right from the start.”

UW couldn’t derail the Nittany Lions once things got rolling in their direction after a promising Badgers start. Facing an end to its season with a loss, Penn State held a 51-26 advantage in shots on goal.

“When you allow that many shots against a good, skilled team, you’re going to get results like we had,” Badgers senior alternate captain Seamus Malone said. “We just weren’t bearing down in our D zone and shutting plays down quick enough and getting it out of the zone.”

It was a major change from Friday’s 4-3 UW victory, when the Badgers were effective in limiting Penn State’s offense.

Folkes broke a 1-1 tie 2:43 into the second period after Adam Pilewicz’s shot went wide and banked hard off the end boards to the right of the net. Folkes tapped it in from there.

Penn State kept coming, with a 21-9 advantage in shots in the second period and a 34-17 lead in shot attempts. Biro doubled the lead off a faceoff, and Nate Sucese provided a 4-1 lead when Badgers starting goaltender Daniel Lebedeff couldn’t slide over in time to stop his try off a deflected shot.

Lebedeff’s night came to an end with 3:54 left in the second after Penn State sophomore defenseman Evan Bell scored his first collegiate goal on a power play.

Making his 10th straight start, Lebedeff allowed five goals on 39 shots. It was the third time in six starts against Penn State (20-14-2) that the freshman hasn’t made it to the finish.

Jack Berry replaced him for the final 24 minutes, making 11 saves and allowing Limoges’ fourth goal of the series. Resting Lebedeff before today’s deciding Game 3 was a priority when the game got out of hand, Granato said, and Lebedeff said he needed a breather.

“I was pretty tired from yesterday’s game and especially today,” he said. “They pressured pretty hard the whole two periods. It was a good moment to forget the game and focus on tomorrow.”

UW (14-17-5) is 3-3 all-time in Game 3s, all coming when it was a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. It has lost its past two, to Colorado College in 2011 and to Denver in 2012. Both were on the road after the Badgers won Game 1.

The Badgers failed to capitalize on a good start Saturday.

A burst of speed from Linus Weissbach put the Badgers ahead after just 3:27. The sophomore zoomed around Penn State defenseman Kevin Kerr in the offensive zone and snuck a shot between the pads of Penn State goaltender Peyton Jones (24 saves).

The Nittany Lions took control from there, getting 18 of the final 22 shots on goal in the opening period and Limoges’ tying goal.

“We cared for the puck a lot better,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said, drawing a comparison to Friday’s game.

After the four-goal Penn State outburst in the second period, the Badgers got a goal back in the third when Matthew Freytag scored from the slot to make it 5-2. But they also took two misconduct penalties as frustration grew. Freshman Roman Ahcan and Malone, a senior, watched half of the final period from the penalty box.

“I’m not happy with it,” Granato said. “But that’s the kind of night it was.”

Wisconsin 1 0 1 — 2

Penn State 1 4 1 — 6

First period: W — Weissbach 8, 3:27. P — Limoges 20 (Pilewicz, Stevens), 8:49. Penalties: Gober, P, 10:36; Inamoto, W, 10:36; Messner, W, 16:30.

Second period: P — Folkes 15 (Pilewicz, Limoges), 2:43; Biro 15 (Berger), 8:48; Sucese 17 (DeNaples, Smirnov), 11:40; Bell 1 (Biro, Folkes), 16:06 (pp). Penalties: Gobetz, P, 7:05; Freytag, W, 8:44; Malone, W, 14:24; Berger, P, 18:56.

Third period: W — Freytag 7 (Malone), 8:01. P — Limoges 21 (Folkes, Gobetz), 15:37. Penalties: Ahcan, W (misconduct), 5:49; Malone, W (minor, misconduct), 8:21.

Saves: W (Lebedeff 18-16-x, Berry x-1-10) 45; P (Jones 6-9-9) 24. Power plays: W 0-for-2; P 1-for-4. Att. — 4,886.