Penn State Hockey Shocks No. 18 Wisconsin, 3-2 in Overtime
Penn State ended its first season of Division I hockey with a bang, knocking off No. 18 Wisconsin, 3-2 in overtime in Madison Wisconsin, Monday.
Since the season began, the Nittany Lions have preached hard work and taking care of the little things as they look to build a Division I hockey program with its sights set on the highest accolades. Monday night's shocker not only was a byproduct of that message, but a massive step forward for a program still finding its legs.
After losing 5-0 the night before, Penn State goaltender Matthew Skoff was a wall behind the Nittany Lion defense, robbing the Badgers of several goals, stopping 42 shots in total.
Penn State held its own through the opening 20 minutes of play and created a few scoring opportunities to counter Wisconsin's pressure. With the game still waiting for an opening goal after the first stanza of play, the Nittany Lions were inching closer to a possible upset.
Wisconsin dominated most of the second period peppering Skoff with 20 shots while only eight of Penn State's attempts found their way to the net. Mark Zengerle broke the stalemate on a 2-on-0 breakaway, slotting the puck over Skoff's glove 16:40 in to the period.
Down a goal with only 20 minutes to play and having been outshot by a 31-to-18 margin, Penn State's hopes of pulling off the upset seemed bleak and dimmed even further as Wisconsin scored again only 6:41 in to the period, giving the Nittany Lions less than 15 minutes to engineer a comeback.
With Badger fans still cheering, Penn State's Taylor Holstrom scored only seven seconds later to cut the deficit in half with plenty of hockey to play.
Casey Bailey scored goal number 14 on the year 12:16 in to the period on the only successful powerplay of the game. While the game had seemed all but over just minutes earlier, suddenly the impossible seemed anything but.
With both teams trying to score the winning tally in the game's final minutes, Skoff was stellar again, saving at least two Wisconsin shots that were headed for the back of the net, flashing the leather and keeping the upset dreams alive.
Both teams registered a few good looks at the goal in the overtime period, but a juicy rebound in front of the Wisconsin net was flipped past Badger netminder Landon Peterson by Penn State forward Taylor Holstrom for the winner with only 34 seconds to go.
Penn State finishes its inaugural season of Division I hockey with a respectable 13-14-0 record including wins against future Big Ten opponents, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin. Nittany Lion head coach Guy Gadowsky said going in to the final stretch of the season that the series against Wisconsin would be the final test to see how far the program had come.
Penn State passed Monday night's exam with flying colors.
The puck will drop in Penn State's $90 million hockey facility Friday, Oct. 11 when the Nittany Lions' men’s hockey team opens the 2013-14 season against the Army Black Knights.
The 2013-14 campaign will mark the first year for the Big Ten hockey conference, with Penn State joining traditional powers Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Each Big Ten opponent will travel to Happy Valley for two games apiece for a total of 10 conference home games. Penn State will also host several nonconference games and travel to a few neutral site games as well.