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Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions' Comeback Falls Short 4-2 Against No. 5 Badgers

by on March 07, 2014 9:52 PM

Penn State took the ice on Friday night looking to upset the No. 5 ranked Wisconsin Badgers. It wasn't to be. Wisconsin's early lead was too much for the Nittany Lions to overcome despite a late rally.

How It Happened: 

Wisconsin came out firing and an early 2-0 deficit put Penn State just a little too far behind the eight ball. The Nittany Lions fell 4-2 on Friday night thanks in part to a late empty net goal by the Badgers. Michael Mersch opened the scoring only 4:41 into the game and Tyler Barnes would follow up with a goal with just over six minutes to go in the first period.

Nic Kerdiles scored midway though the second period to give Wisconsin a 3-0 lead.

Casey Bailey got Penn State on the board midway through the third period and a Taylor Holstrom tally with a minute to play made it a one score game. Mark Zengerle flipped a loose puck into the empty net with six seconds to play to end the comeback bid.

Turning Point: 

Tyler Barnes' goal with just over six minutes to play in the opening period made it 2-0 and it was too much to overcome against the No. 5 ranked team in the nation. The Nittany Lions put together a solid 40 minutes over the next two periods but couldn't rebound after the slow start.

Player of the Game: 

Wisconsin's Nic Kerdiles was credited with a goal and three assists and had three shots on goal while going +3 on the night. Goaltender Joel Rumpel made 24 saves on the night including three breakaway attempts by Penn State forwards.

Stat of the Game: 

Penn State was outshot by Wisconsin 16-8 in the first period. The Badgers controlled the pace of play in the early going. The Nittany Lions would even up the shot total over the next two periods but the final tally was 34-26 in favor of the visiting Badgers. The game also featured 11 penalties including four slashing class, three of which were called against the Nittany Lions.

What It Means: 

Penn State falls to 6-23-2 on the year but puts together yet another solid effort against a Top 10 team. Despite the poor record, their Nittany Lions continue to improve as they play nationally-ranked teams nearly every outing.

Who Is Next: 

The two teams will take the ice again on Saturday night for the second game of the series. Penn State will play a weekend series against Ohio State next week at the Pegula Ice Arena.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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