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PSU men’s hockey set to host No. 12 Wisconsin for series

From staff reports

UNIVERSITY PARK — The Nittany Lions remain on home ice this weekend as they welcome the 12th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers to Pegula Ice Arena for a Big Ten Conference series on Thursday and Friday evening.

THIS WEEK’S MATCHUP

¯This week marks the 39th and 40th meetings in the all-time series. With 38 meetings entering the week, Wisconsin is the team Penn State has played the most in its eight-year Division I history. The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series 20-15-3, including the 11-5-1 advantage at Pegula Ice Arena.

¯Penn State won the season series last year with a 3-1-0 record outscoring the Badgers 16-9 over the four-game series, however, Wisconsin swept the Nittany Lions back in November outscoring PSU 13-6 in Madison.

¯After a long stretch of Penn State dominance from 2014-2018 (Penn State, 13-3-2) the series has evened off over the past two-plus seasons and following the Wisconsin sweep earlier this year is all even at 6-6-1 (includes a three-game playoff series won by Penn State in 2019).

¯Senior Alex Limoges enjoys playing the Badgers as he leads all Nittany Lions with 23 points (8G, 15A) in 17 career games against Wisconsin including his red-hot performance during a three-game playoff series back in 2019 where he registered five goals and two assists for seven points. Limoges also had a career-best four points with four assists in a game at the Kohl Center back in 2018.

¯Senior Sam Sternschein has added five goals and four assists for nine points against the Badgers in 16 games while junior Paul DeNaples also feasts off the Badgers having scored two of his five career goals against Wisconsin while adding five assists for seven points in 13 games.

SCOUTING WISCONSIN

¯The Badgers enter the weekend second in the Big Ten standings with 19 points, just one ahead of Notre Dame and eight back of Minnesota for the top spot. Wisconsin is coming off a weekend sweep of Arizona State last Saturday and Sunday and are 3-1 to begin the New Year after splitting with Minnesota the weekend before.

¯Out of their first 14 games this season the Badgers have played just four games on the road and are 3-1-0 in those contests. beginning this weekend, Wisconsin will play six of its next eight games away from Madison.

¯The Badgers are paced by Sophomore Cole Caufield and senior Linus Weissbach who are tied for the Big Ten Lead with 17 points, good for sixth in the nation. Caufield’s eight goals are tied with Limoges for second in the Big Ten while Weissbach’s seven are good for fourth. Brock Caufield has added six goals while freshman Sam Stage has five through the opening 14 games of the season.

¯Freshman defenseman Anthony Kehrer ranks second in the Big Ten and 11th in the nation with a +10 rating.

¯Between the pipes for the Badgers is graduate transfer Robbie Beydoun who is 5-5-0 with a .904 save percentage and a 3.34 goals-against average, however, freshman Cameron Rowe has started three of the last four games for Wisconsin including both last week against Arizona State winning all three including his first career shutout on Saturday against the Sun Devils. Rowe leads the team with a .952 save percentage and a 1.22 goals against average, both numbers are tops in the conference.

¯Wisconsin is second in the Big Ten and fourth in the nation on the powerplay converting 26.3 percent (10-for-38) of its chances. The Badgers are also second in the Big Ten on the kill at 80.5 percent (33-for-41) a mark good for 24th nationally.

HOME IS WHERE YOU MAKE IT

¯Penn State is 85-43-14 all-time at Pegula Ice Arena including an 11-5-3 record last season and a program-best 15 home victories during the 2018-19 season.

¯The Nittany Lions are 5-1-0 on home ice so far this season and have just begun a stretch of 12-of-14 games inside the friendly confines of Pegula Ice Arena with their sweep against Michigan State last week.

¯With a 5-1-0 record at home this season, Penn State’s .833 win-percentage is the best mark in the nation out of teams who have played more than two home games.

¯The Nittany Lions also lead the Big Ten in goals scored at home averaging 4.00 goals per game on the Pegula ice and are 8-for-18 (44.4 percent) on the man-advantage and 16-for-19 (84.2 percent) on the penalty kill during home games so far this season, both marks top the Big Ten.

COMING ON STRONG

¯Penn State has lost just twice in its last nine games after beginning the year 0-5. That .778 winning percentage is the 5th best mark in the NCAA over that time and the best mark in the Big Ten since December 3. The Nittany Lions’ seven wins are also the 8th most in the nation and tied with Minnesota for the most in the Big Ten since December 3.

WE’VE GOT THE POWER’PLAY’

¯After going just 1-for-16 on the powerplay over the first five games of the season, including an 0-for-12 start, Penn State has regained its man-advantage swagger having scored at least one powerplay goal in six of the last nine games going 10-for-28 in the process. Penn State’s 35.7 percent conversion rate during that stretch is the top mark in the country.

¯Following the hot stretch the Nittany Lion powerplay currently stands at 25 percent (11-for-44) and has jumped from near the bottom nationally to 10th out of the 51 teams who have played games so far this season. Even with such a strong stretch on the man-advantage, Penn State still only ranks fourth in its own conference.

CHASING GREATNESS

¯Senior Alex Limoges leads all active Big Ten players in points with 117 for his career to rank third nationally. His 49 career goals are also the most among active players in the Big Ten and rank second nationally.

¯With one goal and three points last week against Michigan State, Limoges moved into fourth all-time on the Penn State points list passing Brandon Biro ’20 and Denis Smirnov ’20 in the process and now stands just one point shy of Chase Berger ’19 for third. He also broke a tie with Liam Folkes ’20 and stands in solo fifth on the Penn State all-time goals list just one goal shy of Smirnov and two shy of Berger. Limoges’ next goal will be the 50th of his career.

¯The senior’s 14 points this season are tied for 24th nationally and rank fifth in the Big Ten while his eight goals are good for ninth in the nation and tied for second in the Big Ten.

THE ELDER STATESMEN

¯Limoges is part of an eight-member senior class that leads the Big Ten and ranks fourth in the nation in scoring with 47 points on 19 goals and 28 assists. The 19 goals are also the best mark for a senior class in the Big Ten and the fourth most in the nation.

ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL

¯Sophomore Kevin Wall trails only Wisconsin’s Cole Caufield for the Big Ten scoring lead with 12 points in 12 games on six goals and six assists. Caufield has seven goals and seven assists for 14 points.

¯Wall’s six goals in Big Ten play are also the second most in the conference behind Caufield’s seven.

¯The sophomore has three multi-point efforts in his last four games and now have five for his career. Two weeks ago in Columbus, Wall scored twice marking his first career multi-goal game.

ALL THE WAY TURNED UP

¯Junior Oskar Autio has been stellar in net for Penn State over the past month going 5-1-0 in his last six starts with a 1.99 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage dating back to the Arizona State series.

¯His 1.99 goals-against average over his last six games is good for 17th nationally and third in the Big Ten, however, he has more than double the number of games played as the two Big Ten goaltenders ahead of him in Strauss Mann (1.00 in three games) and Cameron Rowe (1.00 in two games).

¯Autio is currently riding a three-game winning-streak to tie his career-high and has a 1.68 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage during that span.

THE GREAT GADOWSKY

¯Head Coach Guy Gadowsky was named a finalist for Big Ten Coach of the Year last season after leading the Nittany Lions to their first-ever B1G regular-season title. The Bench Boss secured the seventh 20-win season of his collegiate coaching career and his fourth with the Nittany Lions with a 3-2 victory over Minnesota to close out the regular season.

¯Gadowsky registered his 150th career victory at Penn State in his 300th game as Nittany Lion head coach on January 9th at Ohio State. After a sweep last weekend against Michigan State, Gadowsky is now 152-127-23 all-time behind the Penn State bench.

¯The 2014-15 Big Ten Coach of the Year registered his 300th career victory in 2019-20 and currently ranks tied for 78th all-time throughout all divisions with 325 victories. Among Division I coaches all-time, Gadowsky ranks tied for 42nd with his 325 wins and is currently 11th among active NCAA Division I coaches.

NEXT UP

¯Penn State remains home to close out its first of two six-game homestands as they welcome the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to Pegula Ice Arena on Thursday and Friday.

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