Penn State punched its ticket to the NCAA tournament and Big Ten Championship with a gritty double-overtime win versus Minnesota. The win leaves the Lions in the No. 11 PairWise position with a chance to move up in the rankings on the final day of the season. The PairWise Probability Matrix currently has PSU at a 100 percent chance to make the NCAA tournament and 54 percent chance to win the Big Ten Championship.
Penn State scored just a minute into the first period when Nikita Pavlychev took a rebound off a Trevor Hamilton shot and put a sweet backhand in for the goal. The Gophers answered with a Rem Pitlick score midway through the first period.
Minnesota scored a power-play goal to take a 2-1 lead. The penalty called on Chase Berger for a hand pass was proven to be the wrong call when the play was shown on replay. Guy Gadowsky was furious on the call and said that he disagreed with what the officials saw during an in-game interview. Two seemingly soft calls were then handed to Minnesota, but the Lions were unable to square the imbalance with the extra skater.
Berger tied the game at two in the early-going of the second period with a great individual effort, taking the puck around the net and finishing with a backhand shot. The goal was credited to Alec Marsh, as it bounced off his arm prior to entering the goal, but the play was inspired by Berger.
Dylan Richard scored a power-play goal early in the third period for a 3-2 Penn State lead. Minnesota tied the game a couple of minutes later and the teams settled into a fast-paced game with each team getting high-quality scoring chances. At the end of regulation the score remained tied, the teams went to overtime.
The teams played a fierce first overtime but by the end of the period it was evident that the players on both sides were gassed. In the second overtime it was a gut-check for both sides.
Erik Autio scored for the Penn State win on a great pass from Denis Smirnov, sending the Lions to the Big Ten Championship on Saturday night. The game will be televised at 8 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
It didn’t take Penn State long to take a 1-0 lead. Just 1:05 into the game Nikita Pavlychev put a rebound off a Trevor Hamilton blast from the point past Minnesota goalie Eric Schierhorn. Pavlychev took the puck off Schierhorn’s pads and flipped it over the goalie with a smooth backhand. Ricky DeRosa got an assist along with Hamilton on the play.
Rem Pitlick tied the game up with a nice finish over the shoulder of Penn State goalie Peyton Jones. Pitlick took a pass from behind the net and snapped a quick shot past Jones before he could react.
A mysterious call against Chase Berger for a hand pass put the Lions on the first penalty kill of the night. The infraction happened on a faceoff, which was won by Berger. The ruling was that Berger used his hand to touch the puck, but the replay showed he had his hand on his stick. Guy Gadowsky was furious with the unfair advantage gained by the Gophers on a provable incorrect call. Insult was added to injury when Tyler Sheehy found Justin Kloos for a one-timer that got past Jones for the power-play goal.
Nate Sucese hit the post in the closing minutes of the opening period on a play that had Schierhorn sprawled out on the ice, unable to cover the open net. The teams went to the locker room with Minnesota leading 2-1.
Four minutes into the second period Chase Berger got revenge for the earlier penalty when he carried the puck all the way around the net and then finished with a backhand shot that ricocheted off Alec Marsh before it got past Schierhorn. Marsh got credit for the goal but the play was all Berger.
The teams skated evenly for the remainder of the period until with 6.5 seconds left Penn State went on a power-play, which is how the final period began, with the Lions holding a one-man advantage on the ice.
Dylan Richard scored during the ensuing power-play to get Penn State the 3-2 lead early in the final period. Andrew Sturtz and Vince Pedrie got an assist on the play.
Jack Sadek tied the game a couple minutes later for Minnesota. He took a faceoff win and threw a floating shot that got past a couple of screens and then Peyton Jones.
Each team had a few chances to score but the game remained tied 3-3 at the end of regulation.
In overtime the players came out with a calculated caution, not trying to make a mistake. Ten minutes into the period the players got tired and opportunities began to open up but neither team was able to score. By the end of the period it was like watching a couple of boxers late in a ten-round fight; they would rotate from periods of aggression to periods of leaning on the opponent. The game went to a second overtime and it seemed like it would be a test of survival for the players, which team would get the first chance to score?
Five minutes into the second overtime it was evident that both sides were struggling to keep their legs. The scoring chances were sparse but each side had a couple of shots on goal.
After several penalty calls that were overlooked during the overtime periods, Leon Bristedt was sent to the penalty box and Penn State had an extra skater. It didn’t take long for Erik Autio to make it pay off, as he scored the game-winning goal in double-overtime.
Stars of the Game
First Star- Erik Autio, Penn State. Game-winning goal in double-overtime.
Second Star- Andrew Sturtz, Penn State. Three assists.
Third Star- Rem Pitlick, Minnesota. One goal and one assist.