The Penn State men’s hockey team needed a night like this one.
The offense was scoring goals again and the on-ice performance showed the energy and effort that had been missing lately.
Behind two goals and an assist from David Goodwin, the No. 10 Nittany Lions broke a five-game winless streak with a 6-3 victory over No. 17 Wisconsin at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
Brandon Biro, Denis Smirnov, Trevor Hamilton and Zach Saar also hit the net in the team’s sixth six-goal game of the season but first since Dec. 1. Peyton Jones made 30 saves for the win.
“That’s a huge win for us to get back on track,” head coach Guy Gadowsky told the media in Wisconsin. “David Goodwin (had) probably his best game of the year. I thought Peyton Jones was tremendous.”
Seamus Malone, Luke Kunin and Jake Linhart scored for the Badgers (15-9-1, 8-3 Big Ten) and Jack Berry had 25 saves, cooling off a team that had won seven of its previous eight.
The scoring for Goodwin gives him 116 points for his career, the program record, and Friday marked his 133rd career game, also now a Penn State record, passing Tommy Olczyk’s 132.
“He did a lot of other things than score goals,” Gadowsky said of his captain. “Goody takes his responsibility as a captain very seriously. I do love that, I do think he was being overly unselfish trying to help everybody else.”
The Nittany Lions (17-6-2, 6-4-1) got the good start they needed when Goodwin fired a wrist shot from the faceoff circle to the top corner of the net on a power play. Biro made it 2-0 when he was left all alone in front to convert Nikita Pavlychev’s feed from behind the net.
A Nittany Lion turnover in the second period led to the first Wisconsin score. Ryan Wagner picked the pocket of Alec Marsh and wheeled into the Penn State zone before setting up Malone in the slot. Kunin tied it on a power play a few minutes later with a tap-in after a pretty passing combination around the net.
Smirnov put Penn State back in front just 50 seconds later, when an odd bounce off the boards went to Goodwin, who was denied on a soft try, but Smirnov was alone to knock in the rebound. It was the freshman’s 12th goal of the season, but his first point since Jan. 14 against Michigan State.
“You got to love the response from us,” said Gadowsky, who earned his 250th career coaching win. “We let go of a two-goal lead. Give them a lot of credit. I wouldn’t say we let it go, but they fought back and had all the momentum, and that was a big goal to get a little bit of the momentum on our side.
Goodwin gave Penn State its second two-goal lead of the night, pouncing on the puck after Nate Sucese won a faceoff in the Badger end.
Hamilton padded the lead 56 seconds into the third with a shorthanded tally.
Linhart fired one in from the blue line on a power play to slice the margin back to two, but Saar hit an empty net from beyond the red line to lock up the win.
Penn State suffered a big loss early in the second period when Kevin Kerr slid hard into the boards behind the net with the Badgers’ Peter Tischke. Kerr appeared to injure his foot, was helped from the ice and did not return.
“Give our ‘D’ credit,” Gadowsky said. “Kevin Kerr is a huge part of our team.”
The teams tangle again at 8 p.m. Saturday.