It’s one of the most unusual stat lines that the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team has produced in recent years.
The Badgers outshot Penn State by three in the third period Monday and still ended up 32 shots in the red for the game.
Goaltender Robbie Beydoun recorded his career high for saves before the game was 35 minutes old.
“We were skating in quicksand,” Badgers coach Tony Granato said. “We got through it, and then in the third period I think we started to smell the blood a little bit and say we’ve got a lead, we probably don’t deserve to be in this position, let’s take advantage of it.”
That they did. By the time it was finished, No. 14 UW had turned a tight contest entering the third period into a comfortable 6-3 victory over the 15th-ranked Nittany Lions at LaBahn Arena.
Wisconsin natives scored the Badgers’ first five goals, with freshman Sam Stange from Eau Claire registering his first two for the team. UW was outshot 44-9 in the first two periods, including 24-2 in the second, but didn’t relinquish the lead once it was secured.
To underscore the disparity, Penn State had 77 of the game’s 99 shot attempts, a rough proxy for puck possession, entering the third period as the heavy-legged Badgers chased the game.
Yet UW led 3-2 and added to the advantage with goals by top-liners Brock Caufield, Cole Caufield and Linus Weissbach in the final 20 minutes.
The final shots on goal were 52-20, the second-largest negative margin for the Badgers in the last 22 seasons. The final shot attempts were 91-51.
“We can’t be satisfied and say we played great and kid ourselves,” Granato said. “We’ve got to realize that our goalie was the reason we won. But we also did some things to give us that chance to win as well.”
The six-goal output came after UW was stymied offensively in losses to Michigan last Thursday and Friday, scoring three goals in the two games.
“To score a lot of goals off not a lot of chances ... was kind of the opposite of what we had especially in the first game against Michigan,” Stange said. “To be able to get a win — and kind of a lopsided win — out of a game when we played like this, I definitely don’t think the scoreboard told what the game was about tonight.”
Beydoun finished with 49 saves, 10 more than his previous best set in his second of three seasons playing for Michigan Tech.
His stop of a Jared Westcott breakaway in the first period was the most critical. It came just over a minute after Kevin Wall beat him on a 1-on-1 chance that the goalie didn’t think he played well.
Stange scored his first goal less than 15 seconds after Beydoun’s denial of Westcott’s opportunity to swing things in the Badgers’ direction.
“If we go down 2-0 there, that’s a tough hole to dig out of starting out a game,” Beydoun said. “I really wanted to redeem myself.”
Afterward, he was headed for a soak in the cold tub but said he felt surprisingly good considering the workload he has faced in the last two games. Beydoun made 34 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss to Michigan on Friday.
Stange touched the crossbar on each of his goals as the Badgers (3-2, 3-1-0-1 Big Ten) counterpunched against the volume of shots by the Nittany Lions (0-3, 0-3-0-0).
After Beydoun’s breakaway save, Roman Ahcan led a 3-on-2 rush and dished to the right for Stange to fire past Oskar Autio (14 saves).
Jack Gorniak atoned for his turnover that led to Wall’s goal by leading and finishing a 2-on-1 break up the right wing.
Stange added to the lead five minutes into the second, catching a pass from Josh Ess and striding to the right circle for another perfectly placed shot.
“The coaches have been telling me to just put the puck on net and, whether it’s a rebound or it goes in, good things will start happening,” Stange said.
But Penn State’s Tim Doherty answered 15 seconds later and the Nittany Lions spent the rest of the second period on the attack, outshooting the Badgers 18-0 and generating 33 shot attempts to UW’s four.
The escalating save count didn’t get into Beydoun’s head.
“There’d be times when I was younger when I’d look up and be like, oh, wow, I’m so good. I’ve made this many saves,” he said. “As soon as you do that, you let off the gas and it’s not a good recipe if you get too high.”
Photos: Badgers men’s hockey team defeats Penn State 6-3
Penn State 1 1 1 — 3
Wisconsin 2 1 3 — 6
First period: PS — Wall 3, 8:02. W — Stange 1 (Ahcan), 9:30; Gorniak 1 (R. Donovan), 14:31. Penalties: Vorlicky, W, 3:27; Kehrer, W, 10:45.
Second period: W — Stange 2 (Ess, Kehrer), 4:54. PS — Doherty 1 (Limoges, Phillips), 5:09. Penalties: Dhooghe, W, 8:16; De St. Phalle, W, 8:16; Doherty, PS, 8:16.
Third period: W — B. Caufield 2 (Weissbach), 5:13; C. Caufield (Ahcan), 7:16 (pp); Weissbach 3 (B. Caufield, Kehrer), 10:40. PS — McMenamin 1 (Wall, Talvitie), 19:08. Penalties: DeNaples, PS, :38; DeNaples, PS, 6:35; Stevens, PS, 11:45.
Saves: PS (Autio 5-1-8) 14; W (Beydoun 19-23-7) 49. Power plays: PS 0-for-3; W 1-for-3.
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