The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team suffered their worst defeat of the season to Penn State, squandering an opportunity to head into the final week of the season sharing first place in the Big Ten.

The Badgers (19-12-1, 12-6-0 Big Ten) were off to a strong start on the weekend with six different players scoring a total of seven goals for UW en route to a 7-4 victory over the Nittany Lions (21-9-2, 10-7-1).

A pair of sophomores opened things up for Wisconsin 9:10 into the first period, as Ryan Wagner slotted a nice pass to Will Johnson, who netted his ninth goal of the season to go up 1-0.

PSU fought right back with a power-play goal from Andrew Sturtz just three minutes later, as would prove to be the case all night.

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The two teams remained knotted at 1 until Seamus Malone put the Badgers up by a score just five minutes into the middle frame. His shot barely crossed the line after being deflected by PSU goalie Peyton Jones.

Wisconsin doubled their lead eight minutes later on a goal from Jason Ford, who knocked home a rebound from Jake Linhart to put the Badgers up 3-1.

Again, however, the Lions came clawing back. Nate Sucese and Andrew Sturtz scored within a minute of each other to tie the game up at 3 with 1:22 seconds left in the period.

The Badgers would respond as Matt Ustaski scored with just 12 seconds left in the period to put Wisconsin back up by 1 heading into the final frame. The second period ended with three goals in the last 2:20.

The scoring didn’t stop for the Badgers in the third period, as senior Grant Besse ended a 14-game scoreless streak 4:02 into the period.

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For the last time of the night, PSU would again come within a goal of Wisconsin. A goal from Dylan Richard brought the score to 5-4 with 14:48 left in the game.

From there, the Badgers would pull away. Jack Berry didn’t allow another goal and ended the night with 34-of-38 shots saved while junior Wagner added to his earlier assist with a couple goals of his own to seal the Badgers’ 7-4 victory. The first was an impressive individual effort while the second was an open-net finish.

The usual offensive juggernauts for Wisconsin, including captain Luke Kunin and freshman Trent Frederic, went pointless in the 7-goal performance as some unfamiliar faces led the offensive charge.

Three Badgers contributed 3 points on the night, including Wagner, Johnson, and senior Corbin McGuire who dished out three assists in Friday’s matchup.

With the victory on Friday night, along with a University of Minnesota, Twin Cities loss, the No. 16 Badgers found themselves tied for first place in the conference with the Gophers heading into the Saturday contest.

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All did not go as planned for the Badgers, as they suffered their worst loss of the year and were shut out for only the second time all season during the 6-0 thrashing.

The game was held the Lions’ senior night, with their seniors netting four of the six goals.

PSU jumped out to a lead 10:44 into the first period on a goal from Kris Myllari while David Goodwin doubled down on that just 50 seconds later.

Wisconsin headed into the middle frame down 2-0 and things continued to pile up.

Despite outshooting PSU 13-11 in the second period, the Lions were the only team to show up on the score sheet, extending their lead to three goals on a finish from David Thompson.

The final period saw the Lions double their lead once more, notching three goals to bring the final to 6-0.

Goodwin tallied his second of the game around halfway through the final frame while Alec Marsh added another two minutes later to make the score 5-0.

Wisconsin ended up in a 5-on-3 short-handed situation for the last portion of the game, giving up the sixth and final goal with under 10 seconds left to put the final nail in the coffin.

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The Badgers looked completely outmatched and overpowered in their biggest loss of the season.

The offense for Wisconsin appeared stagnant despite firing off 36 shots on PSU goaltender Jones. His effort in front of the net allowed the Lions to shut out one of the most prolific offenses in the country and avoid being swept at home.

The loss leaves the Badgers in second place in the Big Ten standings with two games to play, sitting 3 points back of Minnesota and 5 points clear of PSU.

Wisconsin faces off against Ohio State next weekend at the Kohl Center for the final series of the regular season March 10-11. The Badgers swept the No. 13 Buckeyes in their first meeting on the road, but based on this weekend’s events, anything can happen in the world of college hockey. 

Face-off is set for 7 p.m. both nights, Saturday will also be senior night for the Badgers.