UNIVERSITY PARK - The Nittany Lion men's hockey team staged a late third-period rally to cut the Wisconsin deficit to one with a minute to go, but an empty-net tally for the Badgers gave the visitors a 4-2 victory at Pegula Ice Arena Friday night. Penn State fell to 6-23-2 overall (2-14-1-0 Big Ten) with the loss, while Wisconsin improved to 20-9-2 (11-5-1-0 Big Ten).
Facing a 3-0 deficit in the third period, sophomore Casey Bailey netted a power-play goal at 12:04 and redshirt junior Taylor Holstrom redirected his sixth marker of the season to make it a one-goal game. With the score at 3-2, the Nittany Lions pulled goaltender P.J. Musico, who made 30 saves, for an extra skater, but the Badgers sealed the game with an empty-net goal with six ticks left on the clock.
Both redshirt junior defenseman Patrick Koudys and freshman forward Dylan Richard secured multi-point games as the duo garnered assists on both Nittany Lion goals. The two-point game marked the first of Koudys' career, while Richard collected his third multi-point game of the season.
The Badgers outshot the Nittany Lions by a 34-26 margin and went 1-for-5 on the power play. Penn State finished 1-for-4 with the man advantage. Nic Kerdiles and Mark Zengerle led the Badgers with four points each, while Joel Rumpel turned aside 24 shots.
Wisconsin skated to a 2-0 lead with a pair of first-period strikes. While on a power play, Michael Mersch opened the scoring at 4:41 when he netted Zengerle's rebound from the slot. Tyler Barnes doubled the advantage with 5:16 left in the frame when he collected Kerdiles' blocked shot and fired a wrister high.
In the second period, Kerdiles made it a three-goal advantage with 8:49 left to play. During a delayed penalty and with Rumpel pulled for an extra skater, Chase Drake moved the puck to Zengerle along the half wall, where he fed Kerdiles with a cross-ice pass in the right circle. In one sweeping motion, the forward collected the pass before scoring.
With 7:56 remaining in the third period, Bailey's eighth of the season cut the deficit to 3-1. After Koudys moved the puck to Richard, the forward found Bailey in the left circle. The Anchorage, Alaska, native then wristed a shot short side above Rumpel's blocker.
During four-on-four action, head coach Guy Gadowsky pulled Musico for the first time and Holstrom rewarded the move at the 19-minute mark. Koudys started the scoring play again, feeding Richard in the right circle. The Sherwood Park, Alta., native eyed the net before Holstrom, who was stationed in the slot, redirected the puck low past Rumpel.
The Nittany Lions again pulled the goaltender for an extra skater, but Zengerle's attempt from the neutral zone filled the unoccupied net with six seconds remaining to account for the 4-2 final.
Penn State and Wisconsin will conclude their season series at 7 p.m. today.