If there’s one thing this young Nittany Lion team has learned to deal with this year, it’s heartbreaking losses.
Penn State erased an early 2-0 deficit, but couldn’t hold off the no. 1 Minnesota Gophers after Ben Marshall scored with four minutes left to give the Gophers the 3-2 victory in the first Big Ten game at Pegula. Penn State is now 4-11-1 on the year.
The Gophers got on the board fairly quickly, as defenseman Brady Skjei slapped one past the glove of Eamon McAdam (42 saves, .933 save %) around three minutes into the first to give Minnesota the early 1-0 advantage. Despite the early goal, Penn State went on to play one of its better periods this season. The Nittany Lions put nine shots on Gopher goaltender Adam Wilcox (28 saves, .933 save %), with the best chance coming from a Kenny Brooks shot in the slot off a rebound. Penn State also killed two penalties during the period, including 33 seconds of 5-on-3 time.
Thanks to McAdam’s stellar goaltending, the Nittany Lions were still very much in this game going into the second period.
However, the ice started to tilt in favor of the Gophers in the second period. Penn State killed off an Eric Scheid hooking penalty three minutes into the period, but Minnesota capitalized on a Mark Yanis penalty just a few minutes later. Gopher defenseman Mike Reilly slapped one past McAdam from the point, and suddenly Penn State was down two against the best team in the country. The energy had pretty much been sucked out of the Pegula crowd.
However, with just two minutes left in the period, the Nittany Lions finally got on the board with a nice goal from center Taylor Holstrom. From the corner, David Goodwin found Holstrom unmarked in the slot, who promptly pushed it past Wilcox to make the score 2-1.
Thanks to the momentum from the Holstrom goal, Penn State had the Gophers on their heels to start the third. After a few minutes of back-and-forth play, the Nittany Lions tied the game up with a David Glen deflection. Some nice cycling by Penn State led to a wrister from Nate Jensen at the point, and Glen redirected the puck past Wilcox.
“I personally jumped up; I was excited,” said Holstrom. “To even it up at that point in the game was a big boost for us. It gave us hope that we could play with these guys.”
The crowd, which was silent for the majority of the second period, was now back in the game.
Both Minnesota and Penn State traded chances for the next few minutes, until defenseman Mike Williamson took a slashing penalty with eleven minutes left. McAdam once again made several key saves, and Penn State wakilled the power play to keep themselves in the game.
The power play shifted momentum in Penn State’s favor, who immediately had a 2-on-0 opportunity going the other way with Eric Scheid and Goodwin. However, Goodwin’s pass that would’ve given Scheid a breakaway was off the mark by at least 20 feet.
Penn State missed out on another opportunity when Jonathan Milley drew a slashing penalty with eight minutes left. Even though the Nittany Lions had several chances on the power play, the Gophers killed the penalty and the momentum swung back in their direction. Minnesota eventually capitalized on the momentum when a Ben Marshall wrist shot found the back of the net after ringing off the post. The Gophers now had a 3-2 lead with only four minutes remaining.
Eventually, a Yanis roughing penalty proved costly for the Nittany Lions in the remaining minutes, and Minnesota was able to fend off a last second Penn State attack to the take the first game in the series 3-2.
“There’s a lot of work we can do with what we can control,” said coach Gadowsky. “We’re not at all satisfied with where we’re at but we’re happy with how far we’ve come.”
Penn State faces Minnesota again tomorrow night at 7 p.m. The game will be the first white-out in Pegula, and will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network.
- If McAdam can keep up this level of play going forward, he’ll earn the starting position by the end of the year. Aside from the first goal, McAdam was rock-solid for the remainder of the game, and showed why the New York Islanders used a draft pick on him in 2012. He showed patience in odd-man rush situations, and has the physical talent to make the acrobatic saves when needed.
- Gadowsky seems to have finally found the right line combinations. The Goodwin-Holstrom-Scheid, Loik-Glen-Brooks, and Olczyk-DeRosa-Saar lines showed great chemistry last night.
- Penalties continue to be a problem for Penn State. They took six last night compared to Minnesota’s two.