The Lions entered the game with a shot to secure the third seed in the Big Ten tournament. The Gophers were able to take a lead late in the first period and hold on for the win. With the win comes the Big Ten regular season title and the first seed in the conference tournament.
Penn State will play Ohio State in Detroit's Joe Louis Arena on the first day of the Big Ten tournament this Thursday. The Buckeyes are playing solid hockey at this point in the season and have a 3-1 record against PSU this year.
The game began with a very even flow, unlike Friday night where the Gophers dominated the first period. Penn State looked very comfortable and the team played a much more fluid game. The teams skated from one end of the ice to the other with each getting solid scoring chances early on.
Eight minutes in Casey Bailey took a penalty to give the Gophers the first advantage for either team. Mike Reilly made a sweet move and Bailey was forced to grab him or let him continue past for a two-on-one scoring chance just fifteen feet in front of PSU goalie PJ Musico. The Lions were able to kill the penalty and score on the following shift.
Max Gardiner broke the ice on the scoring fifteen minutes in with a goal assisted by Zach Saar and Nate Jensen. The assist was the first point on the season for Saar, the large sophomore forward who missed the first half of the season with injury.
At this point the crowd inside Mariucci Arena got quiet and the two teams skated from end to end evenly for a few minutes. With three minutes left in the period Minnesota tied the game on a goal by Seth Ambroz. The crowd inside the arena awakened, smelling blood in the water for the home team that can score in spurts.
Twenty seconds later the Gophers added a second goal on a shot by Jake Bischoff that was redirected into the net by Hudson Fasching. Leading up to the play Jacob Friedman attempted to clear the defensive zone for the Lions with a shot against the boards but he whiffed on it. Bischofff took the turnover and fired it at the net for the assist.
The atmosphere was as loud as it gets in college hockey following the go-ahead goal. The teams skated evenly and the period ended with the Lions trailing 2-1. Minnesota would never relinquish the lead for the remainder of the game.
The Lions began the second period with a man advantage on a penalty late in the first period. The team was unable to capitalize on the chance but it set the tone for the early going in the period. The teams skated evenly and it appeared that PSU was poised to tie the game.
Instead Kyle Rau extended the lead to 3-1 four minutes in to the period. Having scored three straight goals the Gophers were looking to put the game out of reach. The goal would prove to be the game-winner.
A minute later James Robinson scored for the Lions to cut the lead to 3-2. Connor Varley put a tough shot on net and Wilcox let a rebound escape him. Robinson was there to poke the puck through the legs of the Minnesota goalie. The puck slowly wobbled through the five hole, taking what seemed an eternity to cross the goal line. David Glen got an assist on the play as well.
WATCH: Robinson scores to make it 3-2 Gophers with 13 minutes left in the 2nd period http://t.co/VAotqdBOHo
— Penn State Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) March 15, 2015
It appeared that the game was becoming a close one until forty-five seconds later Minnesota scored again on Ryan Collins' first career goal. Kyle Rau scored shortly after to bring the lead out to 5-2 for the home team. Two minutes later Hudson Fasching scored and the lead was 6-2 Gophers.
The flurry of goals was well deserved by the Big Ten champion Golden Gophers. The Lions had many scoring opportunities mixed in around this time as well. It was the home team that was able to convert the scoring chances with the visiting team coming up short repeatedly.
After a first period that had very few shots on goal, the second ended with each team having over twenty shots on goal, Minnesota had the edge 24-21.
The final frame began with each team skating hastily. The Lions were looking to get back into the game and the Gophers were looking to put it away.
A minute into the period Minnesota got the puck behind Skoff but were not able to score the goal. The shot hit off the back of Skoff's right leg and drifted across the length of the goal-line without crossing over. The Gophers were on a power play after Connor Varley was called for high-sticking. PSU stopped the scoring attempt and was able to kill the penalty.
For the next ten minutes there weren't any penalties or goals scored but the teams played hard. There were many scoring opportunities but no success finishing anything off.
Stars of the Game
* Hudson Fasching (Minnesota) Four points on two goals and two assists.
** Kyle Rau (Minnesota) Two goals including the game-winner.
*** Seth Ambroz (Minnesota) One goal.
- The Big Ten tournament begins on Thursday with PSU facing off against Ohio State at 4:30. The game and entire tournament will be televised on the Big Ten network.
- The Lions have a chance to make the NCAA tournament with three wins in the Big Ten tournament.
- 10,178 fans attended the game, the second-most this year for a PSU hockey game.