The 18th-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions used four unanswered goals, including three in the final period to defeat No. 8 Minnesota, 5-1, in Big Ten Conference action this evening to open up the final regular season home series of the year inside Pegula Ice Arena.
The win was the 100th for the program and for Guy Gadowsky as the Nittany Lion bench boss as Penn State improves to 15-13-5 on the year and 8-10-5-2 in the Big Ten while the Gophers fall to 19-14-2 overall and 10-11-2-1 in conference action.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Penn State opened the scoring as senior James Robinson (Coachrane, Alb.) posted up just inside the left faceoff dot and redirected a blast from sophomore Kris Myllari (Kanata, Ont.) from the left point past Gopher sophomore Mat Robson for the 1-0 lead at 8:13 of the first period.
Minnesota responded as Casey Mittelstadt redirected a shot in front of the crease from the right point by Jack Sadek for the 1-1 score at 12:22 of the opening frame.
The Nittany Lions regained the lead as junior Alec Marsh (Bridgewater, N.J.) held the puck at the blue line and sent a beautiful behind the back pass to sophomore Nikita Pavlychev (Yaroslavl, Russia) who skated into the zone on an odd-man rush and slipped the puck past the defender to a wide open Trevor Hamilton (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.) who finished into a yawning net for the 2-1 lead at 10:31 of the second period.
Sophomore Nate Sucese (Fairport, N.Y.) looked to have given Penn State the 3-1 lead at 13:39 of the middle frame off a great feed from Robinson, but the call was overturned as it was deemed he kicked the puck into the net.
Penn State would extend the score to 3-1 as sophomore Liam Folkes (Scarborough, Ont.) skated into the zone and slammed on the brakes just vbelow the left dot letting his defender pass and then fired short side past the blocker of Robson at 6:27 of the third period.
The Nittany Lions continued to fly as freshman Evan Barratt (Bristol, Pa.) skated into the zone off a nice cross-ice, blueline-to-blueline pass from sophomore James Gobetz (St. James, N.Y.) and fired a shot bar down over the right shoulder of Robson at 11:30 for the 4-1 lead.
PSU then scored a pure effort goal as a strong fore-check caused a Gopher defenseman to mishandle the puck behind his own net and it found the stick of freshman Alex Limoges (Winchester, Va.) who roofed it over the shoulder of Eric Schierhorn for the 5-1 final at 16:52 of the third period.
After stopping a pair of odd-man rushes in the first period sophomore Peyton Jones (Langhorne, Pa.) wasn’t tested much over the final forty minutes as he finished with 14 saves to improve to 14-11-4 on the year.
Robson was the tough luck loser falling to 7-3-1 after stopping 55 shots over the opening 51:30 of the game. Schierhorn collected one save in 8:30 of relief action.
With a 6-2 victory by Ohio State over Wisconsin tonight, Penn State now controls its destiny and with a win tomorrow night will lock up home ice for the first round of the Big Ten tournament next weekend.
Penn State played in front of its 73rd consecutive shutout and 88th overall at Pegula Ice Arena tonight.
The Nittany Lions controlled the game right from the opening draw and held the 61-15 advantage in shots, which is both a season-high and season-low, respectively.
Neither team was able to capitalize with the man-advantage as Penn State went 0-for-3 while Minnesota was 0-for-1.
The 26 second period shots for the Nittany Lions are a season-high in any single period and just five shots off their program record of 31 against Canisius last season.
With his second period goal, Trevor Hamilton has now tied Vince Pedrie for third on the Penn State all-time points list for defensemen with 52 and he is riding a three-game point-streak.
With his second period assist on Hamilton’s goal, Pavlychev now has a career-high 14 points this season on nine goals and five assists.
With a pair of assists, Gobetz secured his second multi-point effort of his career and of the season.
“I thought at least consistently we’ve seen flashes of [great play] in periods, but like you said [tonight] is the most consistent game we played as to what we know as Penn State hockey, it’s nice to see.” – Guy Gadowsky.
Both teams return to action tomorrow night to close out the regular season with a 7 p.m. puck drop.
Penn State’s four-member senior class will be honored during a brief pregame ceremony following warmup and fans are encouraged to be in their seats by at least 6:30 p.m. to catch the beginning of the ceremony.