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Wisconsin men’s hockey: UW earns split at Penn State

The Badgers dominated the Nittany Lions on Thursday and staged a valiant comeback on Friday but fell just short.

The Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team (9-7-0 overall, 7-5-0-0-1-0 Big Ten) traveled to State College, Pa. for a Thursday/Friday series with the Penn State Nittany Lions (8-8-0 overall, 6-8-0-1-0-0 Big Ten) and will be coming home with a well-earned series split. UW dominated the score sheet, if not the total shots, on Thursday, beating PSU 4-1 and staged a valiant comeback attempt on Friday before falling 5-4.

As noted in the above tweet, freshman goalie Cameron Rowe (4-0-0 in starts this year) was basically a brick wall on Thursday only allowing one goal while being peppered with 46 shots and holding the Nittany Lions to 0-for-4 on the power play.

While PSU struggled with the extra man, the Badgers scored twice on the power play (seven attempts) with Ty Pelton-Byce and Cole Caufield each notching a PP tally. Dylan Holloway had an assist on each goal, giving him two for the game. The Badgers iced the game away late in the third with an empty net goal from Dominick Mersch, who hopped out of the penalty box, took the loose puck and scored in the open goal.

Looking to complete the road sweep on Friday, the Badgers came out and gave up two goals in the first 3:07 of the game and a third one before the first period was over, for good measure. After playing so well on Thursday, Rowe just didn’t have “it” between the pipes on Friday and was pulled in favor of Robbie Beydoun after only 15:40 of playing time.

With a new goalie in, the Badgers seemed to get a little boost and Holloway got one goal back seven minutes into the second period off of assists from Roman Achan and Brock Caufield. PSU scored two minutes later to make it 4-1 and no one would have blamed the Badgers for just packing it in and accepting a split.

That, uh, was not how the rest of the game went.

Halfway through the third period, of which the Badgers dominated, Achan scored on assists from Cole Caufield and Anthony Kehrer and then under two minutes later Pelton-Byce scored on an assist from Holloway to make it 4-3 with eight minutes left.

PSU scored on the empty net with 95 seconds left but even then the Badgers weren’t done as Cole Caufield scored his tenth goal of the season with 45 seconds left. UW couldn’t find an equalizer but showed a spirit that you don’t always see.

Caufield has now scored at least one point in the last seven games and Holloway has scored two or more points in his last three games. Wisconsin finished the regular season winning three of four games against the Nittany Lions. The Badgers are back in action next Friday and Saturday at LaBahn Arena against the Michigan State Spartans for the first time this season.