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Wisconsin survives first Big Ten Tournament game to finish in regulation

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Penn State and Wisconsin kicked off the Big Ten semifinals in St. Paul with Joel Rumpel getting the start in net for Wisconsin. Penn State countered with Matt Skoff, who started Friday’s quarterfinal.

At 7:17, coincidental minors were assessed when Wisconsin’s Sean Little was called for unsportsmanlike conduct and David Glen was taken off for roughing. Shots were 9-6 in Wisconsin’s favor through 18:12 and ten different players had each of the shots on goal.

Shots were 10-8 at the end of twenty minutes.

As the second period started, Wisconsin got two good chances in the first minute but it was Penn State who lit the lamp first. At 0:55, Curtis Loik put the puck in the net on even strength. Kenny Brooks and David Glen assisted.

That lead would be short lived as Michael Mersch tallied a Badger goal at 1:27 on even strength. Jefferson Dahl and Morgan Zulinick would get the assists.

At 3:11, Wisconsin’s Jedd Soleway would get called for tripping, giving Penn State the game’s first power play. After the Penn State penalty was over, at 5:21, Penn State took its first minor of the game as Zach Saar took a high sticking call.

Shots were 19-12 at the 9:00 mark of period two, or twenty-nine minutes played overall. Like the two quarterfinals which went to overtime tied at one apiece, it appeared that the game was headed for that same sixty-minute result.

At 12:29, Penn State’s Eric Scheid was assessed a tripping call. Wisconsin’s power play, their second of the game, would be buzzing early. Except for the first forty-five seconds in Penn State’s zone, Wisconsin was held without on its advantage.

At 18:54, Penn State was assessed a bench minor for too many men. Jonathan Milley would serve it and at 19:49, the Nittany Lions would pay when Wisconsin scored. Michael Mersch got credit for the power play goal with Mark Zengerle and Nic Kerdiles assisting.

At the end of forty minutes, shots on goal favored Wisconsin 24-16.

Shots on goal favored Wisconsin 28-17 through the first five minutes plus of period three, and Penn State needed a goal to extend the game.

At 8:32, Wisconsin's Joe Faust was assessed a tripping minor which gave Penn State their second power play of the afternoon.

Minutes after the Penn State power play for the Faust penalty went up in flames, PSU got another advantage after a penalty to Joseph Labate for elbowing at 12:37. The power play for the Nittany Lions simply struggled to produce, but that was a testament to the Badger penalty kill bucking up.

At the end of the game, Wisconsin would play for a right to represent the Big Ten in the NCAA Tournament. Shots finished 34-25 to the Badgers. Power plays had Wisconsin finish at 1-3 while the Nittany Lions were 0-3. You can find a complete game box score by clicking here.

The second semifinal between Ohio State and Minnesota drops at 7pm on BTN/BTN2Go.com. The winner faces Wisconsin Saturday night.

Geoff Discher is Examiner.com's National College Hockey Examiner as well as the Minnesota Golden Gophers Hockey Examiner. Leave a comment below, or feel free to reach him at Disch61@hotmail.com with comments, story ideas, or any general talk surrounding college hockey. You can find him on Facebook as well by clicking here and here, joining the conversation from the social media side as well. He's always chock full of fact and opinion.

Until next time, I’ll see you at the rink!

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