The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team and head coach Tony Granato watched their goal of gaining ground on the rest of the Big Ten quickly dwindle last weekend as No. 10 Penn State swept the Badgers 6-3, 5-2.
PSU came to the Kohl Center and made relatively easy work of a Badgers team that hadn’t surrendered consecutive losses all season.
Wisconsin still clings to second place in the Big Ten, but with a Top 10 PSU team who now holds the head-to-head tiebreaker, the Badgers are beginning to feel some pressure in their rear-view mirror. When asked what exactly went wrong this week, Granato had some choice words for his team.
“[PSU was] simply hungrier in more facets of the game than we were this week,” Granato said.
Throughout his news conference, Granato spoke about how he didn’t think PSU was a more talented team than Wisconsin. He said he thought they won against the Badgers simply because they wanted it more. Coming off four straight losses, the former No. 1 Nittany Lions were in desperation mode, and they showed it.
Reiterating his teams lackluster effort, Granato spoke on his team’s poor performance too.
“You don’t win games by just going out there and out-skilling teams, you win by winning the little parts of the game that add up to victory,” Granato said. “Penn State simply did that more consistently than we did this weekend.”
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Granato also called attention to a troubling pattern his players exhibited in the last few games. His message was clear: Granato wanted them to understand they can’t win games on pure talent alone. They will need to excel in other aspects of the game in order to make a run this postseason.
With that said, Granato hasn’t lost an ounce of faith in any of his players’ wills to rebound. He remains optimistic this team can do serious damage come postseason.
“They were a better team than us this weekend, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be a better team than them a few weeks from now,” Granato said.
The Badgers host the University of Michigan for a two-game series this weekend with another home advantage at the Kohl Center.
UW split their first series against the Wolverines earlier this season in Ann Arbor, but that won’t cut it this time, given the difficult schedule Wisconsin faces to close out the season. With a sweep, the Badgers would win the season series and keep them cozy atop the Big Ten standings.