After defeating the Nittany Lions the night before, No. 12 Wisconsin (9-7, 7-5 Big Ten) fell to Penn State (8-8, 6-8 Big Ten) 5-4 on Friday evening.
Things did not start off great for the Badgers, as they allowed three first period goals, the first two just three minutes into the game — Penn State’s Aarne Talvitie knocked one in and just 13 seconds later, Kevin Wall found the back of the net.
Before those two goals, Penn State had only led against Wisconsin 88 seconds the rest of the season.
Later in the period, the Nittany Lions scored again during the final second of a power play, with Talvitie scoring for the second time that night.
The first period ended with Penn State up 3-0, marking just the third time Wisconsin has trailed at the end of the first period all season across 16 games.
The second period brought a new wave of hope for the Badgers, beginning with pulling starting freshman goalkeeper Cameron Rowe and replacing him with graduate transfer Robbie Beydoun. About halfway through the period, sophomore forward Dylan Holloway scored a breakaway goal, assisted by junior forward Roman Ahcan, to tighten the Penn State lead to 3-1.
The Wisconsin momentum would not last long, however, as Penn State’s Clayton Phillips shot one in just two minutes later. The second period would end 4-1.
Although they entered the third period with a three point deficit, the Badgers would not lose ambition just yet.
Halfway into the third period, Ahcan found the back of the net, assisted by freshman defenseman Anothony Kehre, and less than two minutes later, senior forward Ty Pelton-Byce also put one in for Wisconsin, closing the gap to a 4-3 game.
With about two minutes left in the game, Beydoun was pulled from the net. Unfortunately for the Badgers, the Nittany Lions were able to quickly capitalize with an empty net goal from a distance, shot in by Connor McMenamin.
Less than a minute later, Cole Caufield somehow got the puck to bounce its way into the net with just 44 seconds left on the clock.
The final effort, however, would not be enough — Penn State walked away with a 5-4 win.
Much of Penn State’s win can be attributed to their junior goalkeeper Oskar Autio — the Badgers were able to put up 39 shots for the night, only four of which accounted for goals. Eleven of those shots were Caufield’s, with only the last one leading to a goal.
“I’m frustrated I couldn’t help the team get back in the game a little earlier, that would’ve helped us out with all the chances I had,” Caufield said after the game. “But there’s nothing to hold our heads about, we got down early, it’s hard to come back. We took it to them in the second and third.”
Head coach Tony Granato also echoed the end of Caufield’s message.
“If you don’t play a sixty minute game or if you have a slow start, then you gotta chase the game and sometimes it’s hard. And it was hard,” Granato said. “But I loved how hard we competed. We worked to get back in the game so there’s lots to be proud of. It says a lot about what our whole season has been about.”
Michigan State (5-8-2) will travel to Madison to face Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday in the Badgers’ next Big Ten series.