No. 18 Penn State rebounded from Friday’s disappointing performance with a 6-3 win over No. 7 Minnesota on Saturday night.
Penn State drew first blood after Reese Laubach deflected a point shot by Jimmy Dowd Jr past Justin Close. Just 54 seconds later, with Penn State on a 3 on 4 rush, Simon Mack’s pass bounced off a skate right to a wide open Ryan Kirwan, who put the puck in the yawning net for a 2-0 lead.
Midway through the second, Jarod Crespo forced a Minnesota turnover in the offensive zone, giving Kirwan another wide open chance in the slot. Kirwan potted his second goal of the night to give Penn State a 3-0 lead.
The Nittany Lions had a chance to bury the Gophers after a game misconduct against Minnesota’s Aaron Huglen for boarding Aiden Fink. However, Minnesota managed a shorthanded goal from Rhett Pitlick just 30 seconds before the intermission to cut the Lions’ advantage to just two.
Jacques Bouquot restored the three-goal lead for the Nittany Lions midway through the third on a breakaway after Minnesota mishandled the puck at the point. The Gophers answered four minutes later with Jimmy Snuggerud scoring off a defensive zone turnover.
Justin Close turned the puck over to Dylan Gratton after playing the puck behind the net, and Gratton shot the puck into the unattended cage to give Penn State a 5-2 lead. Bryce Brodzinski found the back of the net on a Minnesota power play to make it a 5-3 game with three minutes left. The Gophers would eventually pull Close for the extra skater, and the Nittany Lions iced the game with Danny Dzhaniyev scoring on the empty net with just 0.5 seconds remaining.
Player of the Game
Ryan Kirwan- 2 goals, 1 assist
Kirwan’s first two goals helped the Nittany Lions race out to a 3-0 lead. It was his second multi-goal game of the season and fifth multi-point game.
Standings and Such
Penn State is currently sixth in the Big Ten standings, but Michigan and Minnesota have played two more conference games than PSU so far. The Nittany Lions are fourth in point percentage.
Penn State will play its final series before the holiday pause when they travel to Madison to take on No. 6 Wisconsin. Friday’s game will be at 9pm on Big Ten Network, and Saturday’s game is at 8pm on Big Ten Plus.