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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, June 21, 2024
Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame 2/10 Men's Hockey 3

Badgers sweep Penn State to stay in Big Ten Championship race

With the two wins against the Penn State Nittany Lions, the Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team control their own fate in the run for the Big Ten regular season championship.

The No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team swept the Penn State Nittany Lions 6-0 Friday and 3-2 in overtime Saturday in the Happy Valley to remain in contention for the Big Ten regular season championship.

After the weekend sweep, Wisconsin trails the Big Ten-leading Michigan State Spartans by two points. The Badgers have a chance to take the lead when they face the Spartans March 1 and 2. To claim the regular season championship, the Badgers need to claim five of the six available points — a win and overtime or shootout win, at least — to claim the championship.

Friday’s six-goal performance marked the largest margin of victory for the Badgers this season. Kyle McClellan’s 27-save performance marks his seventh shutout of the season and ranks him second in Badgers history, trailing Brian Elliott’s eight shutouts in 2005-06.

The Badgers scored two goals in every period Friday. Two of the six came on power plays for a 2-for-6 overall power play performance. The shutout also included the defense going 4-for-4 on the penalty kill, which had allowed more goals on opponent power plays in recent games.

Cruz Lucius’ three-point and two-goal performance stood out for the Badgers. Lucius battled with injuries earlier this season and hadn’t scored in his last five games coming into the series. The team will greatly benefit if Lucius’ offensive contributions continue as they did Friday night. 

Mathieu De St. Phalle also found some much needed production, scoring two goals.  De St. Phalle also hadn’t scored in his past five games heading into Friday. 

Saturday’s matchup played out drastically different. Penn State’s Dylan Lugris scored late in the first period to put Penn State ahead by one. The Nittany Lions kept the lead until the Badgers equalized late in the second period. David Silye deflected the puck in the net right outside of the crease off a dreamy pass from Daniel Laatsch.

The Badgers took their first lead of the game on a power-play goal eight minutes into the third period. Christian Fitzgerald took a longer shot to beat the screened Penn State goaltender Liam Souliere.

However, Nittany Lions’ Ryan Kirwan found the equalizer with seven minutes to play in the third period, which was enough to take the game into overtime. 

Ben Dexheimer scored the overtime winner for the Badgers as he drove into the slot and beat Souliere on the backhand to secure the sweep for the Badgers.

Wisconsin’s sweep secured their second-place rank in the Big Ten and gave them a chance to secure the regular season title. If they don’t overcome the Spartans this coming weekend, they’ll host Ohio State in the playoffs, who just swept the Badgers a week ago. It’s still undecided who the winner of the Big Ten regular season will host in the playoffs.

The Badgers title-deciding series against the Michigan State Spartans is at the Kohl Center in Madison on March 1 and 2 at 8 p.m. both nights.

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Ian Wilder

Ian Wilder is a Sports Editor and former senior staff writer for The Daily Cardinal. He’s formerly covered the men’s hockey beat, state politics and features. Follow him on Twitter at @IanWWilder.

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