DETROIT – The 2016-17 Wisconsin men’s hockey team was within one goal of a Big Ten tournament title and an NCAA bid, but despite outshooting Penn State 52-35 over more than four periods of play, the Badgers fell, 2-1, to the Nittany Lions on Saturday at Joe Louis Arena.
The game ends a season that saw Wisconsin (20-15-1) reach 20 wins and runner-up finishes in the Big Ten regular season and tournament after combining for 12 victories the prior two years.
“We took a great jump,” sophomore captain Luke Kunin said. “We put Wisconsin hockey back on the map where it should be. We even feel like it should be higher than we are right now. I think it was a great turn in the right direction for our program.”
Liam Folkes scored both goals for Penn State (24-11-2), including the winner on a breakaway 6:43 into double overtime to end the night.
Folkes gave PSU a lead at 15:37 of the first period, shortly after an expiring power play, to make it 1-0.
Even play through the first two periods gave way to Badger dominance for the third period as they looked to tie. The Badgers held an 18-5 shot advantage in the third period, and got the equalizer when Matt Ustaski poked home a rebound for a power-play goal at 11:45.
The game stayed scoreless the rest of regulation.
Wisconsin earned the lone power play of the overtimes, but failed to convert. Among the chances in the overtimes for the Badgers were a Trent Frederic crossbar, a pair of Matthew Freytag one-timers and a Malone back-door play, among others.
“Our guys played their hearts out. We had lots of chances, we made good shots on too, but they couldn’t find their way in,” head coach Tony Granato said. “Some games you battle and play like crazy and get great chances and they don’t go in.”
However, it was Folkes with the lone breakaway of the overtimes, and he found the net for the winner.
Freshman goaltender Jack Berry made 33 saves in the loss, while PSU’s Peyton Jones stopped 51 of 52 Badgers’ shots.