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Penn State vs. Wisconsin recap: Badgers take care of business in Big Ten home opener

Wisconsin kicked off its 12-game homestand with a 7-1 blowout win over the Nittany Lions.

Joseph LaBate's three assists led the way for the Badgers
Joseph LaBate's three assists led the way for the Badgers
Larry Radloff Photography

MADISON -- Playing its first home game in over a month, the Wisconsin men's hockey team wanted to put on a show for its fans -- and what a show it was.

Junior Joseph LaBate recorded three assists and seven different Badgers scored a goal as UW (5-5-1 overall, 1-2-1-0 Big Ten) put a hurting on Penn State, 7-1.

"Some games aren't always going to be the prettiest, we found a way to put [seven] goals on the board," senior captain Frankie Simonelli said. "It's not the easiest thing to win college hockey games every night, but when you can come out with a win like that when you didn't play your best game, it's good."

Freshman forward Grant Besse got the scoring underway early in the first with his fourth goal of the season. Simonelli would add his own tally just one minute later.

Tommy Olczyk got the Nittany Lions (3-8-1, 0-1-0-0) on the board later in the first, but that would be all the offense they would muster against junior goaltender Joel Rumpel, who stopped 27 of 28 shots.

"I thought Rumpz settled in," head coach Mike Eaves said. "I thought his decision making -- when to go out and get pucks and play pucks -- got better as the game went along. You know that's his fourth game since the end of March, so it's good for him to get in there and play, stop some pucks and feel and win and there's another good thing about tonight."

Wisconsin would add two more goals in the second and three in the third, but none were prettier than the one Tyler Barnes put home.

Halfway through the second, LaBate spun around in front and threw the puck at goalie Matt Skoff who deflected the puck off to the side. It ended up on the stick of Barnes, who, while facing away from the net, backhanded the puck through his legs and into the net.

"Tyler's a very highly-skilled forward. And I'm not surprised by that goal," LaBate said. "He does it in practice, he can do moves like that. He can pull it off."

The win pushes the Badgers' home record to 4-0-1 this season and they will have a chance to earn the sweep Saturday night at 8 p.m.

"We play a lot of home games and I know that the boys would like to get on a roll," Eaves said. "Starting slow and building and getting better as the game went on, and the guys were saying in the locker room let's bring what we did in the end of this game into tomorrow's game and see if we can pick up where we left off."