For a few minutes early in the third period on Saturday, the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team had life.
Carson Bantle scored two goals 95 seconds apart to narrow Penn State’s lead to one goal and the Badgers were on the front foot that they hoped to reach all weekend.
It was a short-lived movement.
Bantle took a penalty and Penn State quickly scored the first of four straight goals to run away with a 7-2 victory against the Badgers in State College, Pennsylvania.
“Some calls just went the wrong way and it all happened fast,” Bantle said. “We’ve just got to be better.”
Ryan Kirwan and Ben Schoen both scored twice for Penn State, which had 12 of 19 skaters record at least a point.
After making noticeable improvements during a stretch of 10 games in Wisconsin, the Badgers fell to 1-9 on the road with their sixth straight defeat outside of their home state. They allowed a season high for goals in their largest loss since March 2020.
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“We didn’t play well,” UW coach Tony Granato said. “We stood around and watched. And then when we made our push ... we self-destructed with penalties.”
UW trailed 3-0 at the start of the third period but got a jolt of energy from Bantle, who celebrated his 20th birthday with a pair of goals.
He fired home from the left circle off a pass from Mathieu De St. Phalle, then forced a turnover and wrapped the puck around goaltender Oskar Autio’s right pad.
It was 3-2 and the Badgers had things going their way. Not for long.
Bantle was called for roughing and Schoen scored the first of his two third-period goals to turn the momentum back toward the Nittany Lions.
They kept rolling from there. Danny Dzhaniyev restored Penn State’s three-goal lead before UW’s Dominick Mersch and Ryder Donovan went to the box 49 seconds apart on what Granato called “bad penalties.”
Connor MacEachern scored the Nittany Lions’ second 5-on-3 goal of the series. Schoen later made it 7-2 with his team’s fourth goal in less than seven minutes.
“I think those were some pretty dumb calls,” Bantle said. “Obviously, the refs thought different.”
UW allowed one power-play goal in its last 10 games entering the series. Penn State was 3-for-7 in the two games.
The Nittany Lions (14-12-0, 4-10-1-1 Big Ten) allowed 16 goals in going 0-4 over the previous two weeks but moved out of last place in the Big Ten and just one point behind fifth-place UW (8-15-3, 4-9-1-2).
Jared Moe made his 10th straight start for the Badgers but was pulled for the second night in a row after allowing five goals on 35 shots in 46 minutes. He gave up three in 29 minutes of a 4-1 loss on Friday.
Penn State made the Badgers pay for looking disorganized defensively in jumping out to a 3-0 second-period lead. Kirwan scored from the slot to break a scoreless tie after UW scrambled to cover players.
It was the Nittany Lions’ 16th shot on goal of the game; they outshot the Badgers 14-2 in the first period and 51-22 for the game. The 29-shot negative margin was the second-largest in Granato’s six seasons as coach behind a 32-shot deficit in a 6-3 victory against Penn State last season.
Kirwan made it 2-0 from the left side after he got free for a pass from Christian Sarlo.
Kevin Wall danced around UW’s Bantle and Tyler Inamoto on a drive to the net and set up Tyler Gratton for an easy putaway in the final minute of the middle frame.
“They were good and we didn’t have our ‘A’ game, so to speak,” Granato said. “We didn’t have our consistent shift-after-shift game. I’ve been very positive on how we’ve graded players in lots of weekends. This weekend for our players the grades weren’t quite as good as they needed to be.”
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Wisconsin 0 0 2 — 2
Penn State 0 3 4 — 7
Second period: P — Kirwan 8 (Copeland, Dowd), 4:28; Kirwan 9 (Sarlo, DeNaples), 14:31; Gratton 7 (Wall, Copeland), 19:15. Penalty: Gratton, PS, 17:06.
Third period: W — Bantle 5 (De St. Phalle, Baker), 1:10; Bantle 6, 2:45. P — Schoen 4 (Dowd, Autio), 5:07 (pp); Dzhaniyev 4 (Wall), 5:50; MacEachern 12 (Dowd, Schoen), 8:27 (pp); Schoen 5 (Lamppa, Phillips), 11:51. Penalties: Bantle, W, 4:28; Mersch, W, 6:56; R. Donovan, W, 7:45; Kehrer, W, 17:22.
Saves: W (Moe 14-14-3, Rowe x-x-13) 44; PS (Autio 2-10-8) 20. Power plays: W 0-for-1; PS 2-for-4. Att. — 6,247.