Liam Folkes loves playing against Wisconsin.
Last March, the sophomore scored the game-winner on a breakaway in the second overtime of the Big Ten Championship game.
Saturday night at Pegula Ice Arena, he came through again, scoring in regulation and then delivering a shootout winner against No. 15 Wisconsin.
“The last ... three games against them it’s been going my way,” Folkes said. “We’re happy about it. I don’t know, I guess shootouts against them work out for me.”
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The No. 14 Nittany Lions get a 3-3 tie in the official books, but an extra point in the Big Ten standings will not hurt, and neither will an emotional win.
“We showed a lot of grit throughout the game,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “Obviously, it wasn’t our best.”
Penn State is unbeaten in its last 10 with the second shootout win of the season, a penalty-filled game that produced 20 penalties and 51 minutes of time in the box.
Sam Sternschein and Chase Berger also scored for the Nittany Lions (12-7-3, 5-4-2-2 Big Ten).
Linus Weissbach, Sean Dhooghe and Peter Tischke had the goals for the Badgers (10-10-2, 4-6-1), who are winless in their last four. Tischke tied the game with 1:52 left to force overtime.
The Nittany Lions thought they had a win just over a minute into overtime when Andrew Sturtz tucked a rebound around the post, but the officials wiped the score away with a ruling of goaltender interference.
“Earlier in my career it would have been a lot harder (to shake off),” Sturtz said. “That’s one thing I’ve kind of worked on — controlling things I can control. If the goal doesn’t count, it doesn’t count.”
Peyton Jones put up another stellar effort in goal, turning back 26 shots for the Nittany Lions. He also stopped all three Wisconsin tries during the shootout.
“It’s obviously tough, but good teams find a way to win,” Sturtz said. “We’re making a lot of strides in becoming a good team. It’s happening at the right time.”
Player of the Game
Folkes delivered with a patient shootout goal, waiting for Badger goalie Kyle Hayton to make a move before hitting the net in the only score of the shootout.
“I wanted to shoot it, then went down, faked the shot and he never bit,” Folkes said. “Then obviously I went around him, and it worked out.”
Folkes was also the first to score in the game, with Brandon Biro’s feed from the corner finding the sophomore winger in the slot with 6:49 left in the first on a power play.
“He’s a clutch kid,” Gadowsky said.
Weissbach tied the game 88 seconds after Folkes’ opening goal, and Sternschein got the Lions back in front with a pretty finish of a 2-on-1 break with Alec Marsh in the final minute of the second period.
Berger gave Penn State a 3-1 lead in the first minute of the third, knocking in a rebound off a Sturtz attempt. Dhooghe cut the lead to one with a deflection and Tschke tied it with just under two minutes left.
Jones also had an assist on Berger’s score, giving the sophomore goalie a scoring point for the second straight game and third time this season.
On Friday evening, Wisconsin’s Trent Frederic scored four goals during Team USA’s 9-3 pounding of the Czech Republic to help deliver a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. Just over 24 hours after that game ended, the sophomore forward was in the starting lineup for the Badgers. Coach Tony Granato said after Friday’s game he was hoping to give Frederic some rest, but if Frederic made a convincing case, he could play.
The Nittany Lions played without Trevor Hamilton, and with only five defensemen, essentially for the entire game. Hamilton delivered a high hit to Frederic, with the stick and arms near the Badger’s head. The senior defenseman was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct just 17 seconds into the game. The Badgers fired off five shots but didn’t convert on the extra-long power play, and the defensive pairings had to be shuffled all night.
“All of them were put in positions (they’re) not normally used to,” Gadowsky said. “All played with new people. I think you have to give them a lot of credit.”
The Nittany Lions stay home next weekend, hosting No. 8 Ohio State on Friday and Saturday.