Playing like a team absolutely possessed with the idea of extracting revenge for a humiliating defeat on home ice suffered last season, the local side took control once and for all with an overwhelming second period and benefited from goals scored by seven different players as # 17 ranked WISCONSIN blasted visting PENN STATE 7-1 in the very first official Big Ten Conference game ever held at the Kohl Center in Madison.
In fact, the determined Badgers served immediate notice of their intent by firing their first two pucks officially on target past Penn State goaltender MATTHEW SKOFF, the homegrown sophomore from McKees Rock who had starred in the Nittany Lions’ 3-2 overtime triumph at the Kohl Center just nine months ago in his one and only appearance against Wisconsin of his rookie NCAA season, within the first four minutes of their Big Ten home opener.
Penn State, who have been playing a much higher quality of hockey as of late despite coming into this historic contest with Wisconsin having lost their last four games on the trot, were able to half the deficit almost eleven minutes in. Captain TOMMY OLCZYK took a fabulous feed in between the faceoff circles and ripped a one-timer past Badgers goaltender JOEL RUMPEL, the junior from Swift Current, Saskatchewan, who had shutout Penn State in his one and only appearance against the Nittany Lions last term, to celebrate his third goal of this 2013/14 season. Olczyk, the junior left wing from Long Grove, Illinois, who has always stood out for his hard work with the penalty killing unit, netted three goals in 24 NCAA games for Penn State all of last season.
Wisconsin left wing GRANT BESSE (21), the highly-touted freshman who was named the State of Minnesota’s high school hockey player of the year and then snapped up by the Anaheim Ducks in the fifth round (# 147 overall) of the 2013 National Hockey League Draft last summer, scored his fourth goal of this current NCAA campaign a little less than three minutes into the landmark Big Ten Conference clash with visiting Penn State at the Kohl Center in Madison.
In retrospect, Wisconsin initiated the rout in earnest by outshooting Penn State 18-7 and scoring twice in a dominant second period. The Badgers extended their lead to 3-1 almost six minutes in after an atrocious turnover near the Nittany Lions’ blue line directly led to a breakaway goal by Wisconsin right wing MICHAEL MERSCH, the senior from Park Ridge, Illinois, who was the Big Ten’s unofficial goal-scoring champion last season having lit the lamp 23 times in 42 NCAA games. “They’re great finishers,” Penn State coach GUY GADOWSKY later confessed, “they’re a great hockey team, and certainly the mistakes we made we can’t expect to get away with.”
The fourth Wisconsin goal almost nine minutes into the middle frame certainly was a fantastic piece of both ice hockey intelligence as well as physical skill combined. Badgers center TYLER BARNES took a pass from left wing JOSEPH LABATE on the backhand at the side of the Nittany Lions net knowing that the Penn State goaltender Skoff was now just a bit out of position, if only for the moment. So the junior from Burnsville High School in Minnesota, with his back to the cage, quickly backhanded the puck between his legs to “simply” score his fourth goal of this season.
Led by LaBate, the fourth round choice (# 101 overall) of the Vancouver Canucks at the 2011 National Hockey League Draft who ended this night with three assists, Wisconsin were not content to merely kill the clock in the final period. Badgers first line center NIC KERDILES, the sophomore from Irvine, California, who was the second round pick (# 36 overall) of the in-state Anaheim Ducks at the 2012 NHL Draft, chased Skoff after notching his seventh goal of this current campaign with less than seven and a half minutes to play. Wisconsin then proceeded to pump two goals past Nittany Lions replacement netminder P.J. SKOFF, the junior from Orange, California, who was making his first appearance of this 2013/14 season.
The seven goals by the rampant Badgers broke the Penn State school record for most goals allowed in any one contest, with the previous standard having been established when Robert Morris University blanked the Nittany Lions 6-0 in the first game of the 2012 Three Rivers Classic at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh during the Christmas holiday season a year ago.
University of Wisconsin right wing MICHAEL MERSCH (25), the fourth round choice (# 110 overall) of the Los Angeles Kings at the 2011 NHL Draft who struck for the seventh time this season while scoring his 51st career NCAA goal on Friday night, is confronted by Penn State defenseman DAVID THOMPSON (22), the homegrown freshman from Glen Mills who has established himself as a regular on the Nittany Lions’ blue line, during the second period of the very first official Big Ten Conference men’s ice hockey match ever hosted by the Kohl Center in Madison.
December 6, 2013
Kohl Center – Madison, Wisconsin
Attendance : 8,945
WISCONSIN 7 – PENN STATE 1
02:54 … WIS – Besse (Little)
03:54 … WIS – Simonelli (Barnes, Zulinick)
11:47 … PSU – Olczyk (De Rosa, Jensen)
25:52 … WIS – Mersch (Kerdiles)
28:46 … WIS – Barnes (LaBate, Zengerle)
52:37 … WIS – Kerdiles (LaBate, Simonelli)
54:33 … WIS – Schulze (LaBate, Zengerle)
59:23 … WIS – Navin (Soleway, Dahl)
shots-on-goal : Wisconsin 43 ( 11 + 18 + 14 ) – Penn State 28 ( 12 + 7 + 9 )
penalty minutes : Wisconsin 10 – Penn State 8
PENN STATE : Skoff – Juha, Williamson ; Koudys, Thompson ; Jensen, Varley – Goodwin, Holstrom, Scheid ; Gardiner, Glen, Brooks ; Olczyk, De Rosa, Friedman ; Saar, McDonagh, Milley
WISCONSIN : Rumpel – McCabe, Simonelli ; Schulze, Faust ; Wittchow, Drake – Zulinick, Kerdiles, Mersch ; LaBate, Zengerle, Barnes ; Besse, Dahl, Little ; Navin, Meuer, Soleway