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Penn State Hockey: Wisconsin Rolls To 7-3 Win

by on February 23, 2019 10:20 PM

Penn State fell 7-3 to Wisconsin on Saturday night in a game that was not nearly as surprising as it should have been given the Nittany Lions' 8-2 victory the evening prior.

Despite being known for its offense, Penn State has been known for other things this season. There are specifics, but the overarching theme has been inconsistent performances.

Saturday night was no different, in fact it marked the fourth time this season Penn State has gone from winning the opening game of a series to losing the second game by a fairly wide margin.

There was a 4-3 win over Ohio State that turned a 5-2 loss. A 4-2 win over Minnesota that 24-hours later was a 4-1 defeat. 4-2 against Michigan State and then a 6-4 Spartan win the following night.

"I am surprised, because we've seen it and we've tried to address it," Coach Guy Gadowsky said after the game. "Obviously it's my issue, to make sure we're ready to compete but we weren't. I keep thinking we learned our lesson but we obviously haven't. I am still surprised, I'm very surprised. And I still don't have the answer."

Losses are a part of the game, blowouts are a part of the game, but Saturday's defeat seemed predictable. Losing close would have been one thing, almost better, but losing by four was a lesson still not learned. For all of the good this team can produce it can turn around and do the opposite and on Saturday it did.

The ability to answer the "why" and the ability execute that answer will determine much going forward. The Nittany Lions face Notre Dame in South Bend to close out the year and an uphill road in the Big Ten Tournament even with home ice still on the table. 

Regardless, as Wisconsin took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission and a 5-2 making into the second, it wasn't unreasonable to ask less if the Nittany Lions' ability to make the playoffs as it was how much they deserve to make them in the first place. Penn State could still very well squeak in the same way it has each of the past two years, but where those two teams rounded into form at the right time, this one seems to just be exactly what it is, inconsistent.

It could play with anyone in the nation, it could not.

That fact will almost certainly haunt the Nittany Lions this offseason, the year has not been short on wins turned losses, bad games that could have otherwise been competitive. The chances have been there, the leap was not a far one to make and simply wasn't. Hosting a regional in Allentown again this postseason, the Nittany Lions would have had a friendly crowd to cheer them on, a rarity in an ever moving postseason location.

Equally true, Penn State's season has not been without its positives, both in offensive production and results against Big Ten teams. Sitting at 32 points, a single win against Notre Dame would give the Nittany Lions their best overall season in terms of points in the Big Ten standings. Wins against Minnesota, Notre and others are not accomplishments to be overlooked.

Nevertheless, as will likely be reiterated by both players and coaches in the coming weeks, the small accomplishments are nice, but they are no longer the priority.

"It's still possible for us to do what we set out to do this year," Gadowsky added. "So yes, I still think there is time."

In a week, everyone will find out if there was.



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