Sporting events often require a certain amount of nuance to unpack. Things are rarely black and white, or at least rarely as straightforward as you might imagine. But then there are the games when everything is pretty clear cut.
Take for example, Penn State hockeys’ 4-1 loss to Wisconsin in Thursday night, a game that saw the Nittany Lions take seven penalties over the course of regulation. A game that witnessed 46 shots on goal by Penn State’s offense but far fewer quality chances. A game that included Cole Caulfield, one of the nation’s best hockey players, who accounted for a goal and assist.
Sometimes you don’t create chances, take too many penalties and let an elite player rip home a fairly wide open shot on the power play.
And that was pretty much Thursday night in a nutshell. Wisconsin went up 1-0 with just under seven minutes to go in the first period and would add another tally a few minutes later to push ahead 2-0 heading in the intermission.
Oskar Autio, who continues to get the nod in goal for Penn State, was fairly solid for the entire night, making 26 saves over the course of the evening, making 14 of those saves during a fast moving middle period.
Kevin Wall would cut the Badger deficit to 2-1 just a minute into the second period for his seventh goal of the year, but two penalties in the period would stall most of the Nittany Lion momentum shortly thereafter.
The score was the same heading into the third period but a penalty with just over six minutes to go sent the Badgers to a seventh power play and Wisconsin’s second man advantage goal of the night, this one by Caufield. With the clock counting down faster than Penn State could generate quality looks – despite 18 shots on goal in the third – the visitors had done all they needed to secure the victory.
An empty net goal with Penn State on the power play would give the game its final score.
Both teams will take the ice Friday night for the final game of the series.