There’s a number of characteristics that separate Denis Smirnov and Evan Barratt.
Scoring ability is not one of them.
As Penn State readies for a trip to Madison for a weekend series against Wisconsin, Barratt finds himself with 21 points in 13 games this season. When then-freshman Smirnov set the program record with 47 points in 2016-17, he recorded 22 points in the team’s first 13 games of the year.
Smirnov jumped onto the scene as a freshman with his combination of finesse and pinpoint shooting accuracy. Barratt required a season of growth before emerging as arguably the Nittany Lions’ best player and one of the top performers in the nation.
That freshman campaign was crucial in his development as a player.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve gained five pounds. I’ve been really on top of the way I eat and how I take care of my body,” Barratt said Monday. “It’s definitely been a big step for my hockey career, coming here.”
While Barratt will look to continue his exceptional campaign, goaltender Peyton Jones will try to further re-establish himself as the No. 1 netminder for the Nittany Lions.
Through the first six weekends of the season, Jones and senior Chris Funkey evenly split the goaltending duties as the Nittany Lions roared out to a 9-2-0 start. While neither goalie’s numbers are spectacular, Jones has shown that his stature and patience in the crease is more suited for Big Ten play than Funkey’s more erratic style.
For the first time this season, Jones started both games in a weekend series against Ohio State and answered the call. As the Nittany Lions split with the Buckeyes, Jones stopped 69 of 75 shots, including 21 in the third period of a 4-3 victory.
Gadowsky wouldn’t reveal whether Jones will get both starts against the Badgers, saying only that he would get Friday’s start. Regardless, Jones will prepare to start both nights, as he always does.
“As a goalie, you just have to be ready when you’re called upon” Jones said. “That’s the biggest thing for me, is to wake up every day, whether I’m playing or I’m not playing, and do the same things to be ready to play.”
While the Nittany Lions jumped out to a strong start this season, the Badgers have struggled through the opening portion of the year. Despite winning three of their first four games, the Badgers are sporting a 5-7-2-0 record, going 1-3-2-0 in conference play.
The Badgers struggles can largely be pinned on the loss of its top scorers from last season, Ryan Wagner and Trent Frederic. The duo scored 33 and 32 points, respectively.
In their place, Sean Dhooghe leads the charge with seven goals, while defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk and forward Seamus Malone lead the team with 11 points apiece. Kalynuk isn’t the only blue liner producing for the Badgers, as K’Andre Miller is tied for second on the team with 10 points.
In goal, Jack Berry returns for his senior season and has split the starting duties evenly with freshman Daniel Lebedeff. The underclassman has outperformed his elder, as Lebedeff has a .922 save percentage and 2.26 goals-against average. Berry has posted a .891 and 3.42 in the two categories.