The Penn State hockey team’s hope at a Big Ten title and a berth in the NCAA tournament remains alive.
The Nittany Lions advanced to the Big Ten semifinals Sunday night with a 4-3 overtime win against Wisconsin in the deciding contest of the three-game series at Pegula Ice Arena. Wisconsin took Game 1, 4-3, on Friday and Penn State won 6-2 Saturday.
The No. 4-seed Lions will next face top-seed Ohio State in a single-elimination semifinal game March 17.
Penn State junior Liam Folkes played the role of hero yet again Sunday night — a role he’s become accustomed to against Wisconsin. In 2017, he scored on a breakaway against the Badgers in the second overtime to win the Big Ten title. Last year, in the regular season, he was the only Penn State player to score in a shootout during a win.
And, on Sunday night, Folkes recorded two goals and an assist. And, of course, he nailed the game-winner in overtime. His nine points in the Big Ten tournament so far are already a school record.
Player of the game: Forward Liam Folkes
Who else did you think it would be? Folkes scored the first and last goals of the game — he got off just three total shots in the game — to go along with an assist.
He gave Penn State an early 1-0 lead just 1:18 into the game. Then, when the Nittany Lions trailed 3-2 late in the second period, he earned an assist on an Alex Limoges goal. And then, 10:50 into overtime, he scored the game-winner on an assist by Limoges and Evan Barratt.
Folkes has been an absolute Badger killer throughout his career. Sunday was no different.
Stats of the game: Faceoffs and shots on goal
Both Wisconsin and Penn State had plenty of scoring opportunities in the third period and overtime, but the Nittany Lions were able to capitalize in the end. Why? Let’s look to the numbers.
Although both teams got off nearly the same number of shots — 85 for Penn State, 82 for Wisconsin — the Nittany Lions boasted a lot more quality. Fifty of their shots were on goal, compared to the Badgers’ 39.
And, with faceoffs, Penn State dominated. It won 48 to Wisconsin’s 27.
Those were the largest disparities on paper Sunday.
What’s up next: Semifinals, championship
Ohio State and Penn State will play in Columbus, Ohio, at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in a single-elimination semifinal game. In the other semifinal, Minnesota will square off against Notre Dame on March 16.
The winners will then face one another in the single-elimination title game March 23 or 24.
The NCAA tournament starts March 29, with the Frozen Four starting April 11.