Penn State came into the series with two wins on Minnesota’s home ice in program history. With a win on Friday night, the Lions were hoping to gain two wins in one weekend. The Gophers weren’t looking to be swept at home, and played like a team that had a lot on the line.
It’s amazing that in such a short time Penn State has been able to build a program that can aspire to playing better than a team such as Minnesota on their tough home ice. Without the aid of Evan Barratt and Aarne Talvitie, who were finishing up their run at the World Junior Championships, the Lions were lacking some offensive firepower.
Even without the two stars, it was clear that Penn State has the horses to run with any team in the country. While the Gophers earned the victory, the Lions played well enough to win.
Penn State will return home for the first game at the Pegula Ice Arena since December 8, hosting Michigan State.
How It Happened
Cole Hults hit the post in the opening minute and then soon after Blake Gober took a penalty to give the Gophers a quick power play. It was a rapid turn of fortunes but Chase Berger ended up having a short-handed breakaway. The penalty was killed without allowing a shot on goal.
Chase Berger got the first goal of the game off his own won faceoff. Berger won the draw to Brandon Biro, then got the puck back and put it past Minnesota goalie Matt Robson. The Lions had an advantage in shots on goal of 8-4 at the time.
Tyler Nanne tied the game with four minutes to play in the opening period when Minnesota used some swift passing in front of Peyton Jones to find an the back of the net. By the end of the opening frame both the score and the momentum was dead even.
Liam Folkes made a nice steal and then pass across to Max Sauve, who couldn’t get the puck to settle, and missed a chance for a goal early in the second period. Ludwig Larsson had a point-blank chance a couple of minutes later but was turned back.
Penn State peppered the Gopher goal with several shots on one possession, but Minnesota took the puck after the flurry and got a goal past Peyton Jones. Rem Pitlick found Brent Gates for the score. Cole Hults took a penalty shortly after and the momentum swing was huge for the moment. The Lions killed the penalty without allowing a shot on goal.
With 2:36 left to go before the second intermission, the Gophers got their third goal of the night. After the Lions had several nice scoring chances, Minnesota got the payoff again.
Nate Sucese reached behind Peyton Jones to pull a puck out that was heading in for a goal early in the third period. The play extended the competitive portion of the game by twenty minutes since it had the feel that a 3-goal advantage would have been too much to overcome.
The teams skated evenly, with Penn State having scoring chances and Minnesota as well, but neither cashed in. Peyton Jones left the net empty with 3 minutes to play for an extra skater. Cole Hults hit the post on a shot that could have cut the lead to one goal.
The Lions controlled the puck for much of the final three minutes, with the net empty. With 11 seconds left Rem Pitlick scored the empty-netter.