No. 6 Penn State continued its weekend series against No. 7 Minnesota looking to split the set and get back into the win column after going the last four games without one. After having 1-0 and 2-1 leads during the game, Penn State couldn’t control Minnesota’s offense — losing yet again by a score of 5-2.
How It Happened
Guy Gadowsky mixed up the lines Saturday looking to generate some sort of spark after his Nittany Lions lost their last three games. Most notably, captain David Goodwin dropped to the second line in favor of Alec Marsh and points-leader Denis Smirnov dropped to the third line.
Minnesota had a golden opportunity to take the early lead in the first period after a gorgeous wrap-around attempt from Justin Kloos, but his shot hit the outside post. Marsh would get the first tally of the game, finishing with a nifty back-hander after receiving a feed from Andrew Sturtz. Chase Berger was also credited with an assist on Marsh’s third goal of the season.
At frantic pace with six minutes left in the first, the Gophers missed a two-on-one opportunity high and wide and Goodwin took it the other way and had a crafty toe-drag that led to a shot, but Gopher goalie Eric Schierhorn got just enough to steer it wide.
Penn State got the first power play opportunity of the game after Minnesota was whistled for too many men. During the man advantage, the Nittany Lions allowed Leon Bristedt to get a breakaway opportunity and he went five-hole on Peyton Jones to tie it up 1-1 with the shorthanded goal.
The Nittany Lions got a great look late in the first when Brandon Biro finessed his way in front Schierhorn, but couldn’t get the shot to hit the back of the net. On the counterattack, Minnesota got a chance in front, but Jones stood tall again shutting the door on the Gophers. After the first period it seemed Penn State was back to playing its usual up-tempo pace, outshooting the Gophers 14-11 in the frame.
The Nittany Lions didn’t waste much time starting the second period. Just 41 seconds into the frame, Goodwin netted his fourth goal of the season with Berger and Sturtz recording the helpers to give Penn State a 2-1 lead. The energy was phenomenal for the Nittany Lions early in the second as they were all over the ice creating offensive opportunities.
Zach Saar eventually found himself going to the penalty box on a 10-minute misconduct when his stick caught the ref’s face, and needless to say the official was not too thrilled about it. After the misconduct, the momentum shifted in favor of the Gophers. Minnesota scored two quick goals in a 1:14 span midway through the second to give it a 3-2 advantage over Penn State. The Gophers almost scored a third in quick succession, but Jones was able to keep the puck out of the net.
Minnesota seemed to keep getting odd-man rushes against Penn State in the second period. After giving up the two quick goals, Jones seemed a little rattled, scrambling all over the net trying not to allow any rebounds.
Penn State went back on the power play as Minnesota was looking to bury the Nittany Lions after controlling the majority of the second period, but after not being able to capitalize on the man-advantage for the second time, Penn State was whistled for a too-many-men penalty, giving the Gophers their first power play chance of the game.
Minnesota would convert on the man-advantage with Bristedt getting his second goal of the night to give the Golden Gophers a 4-2 lead with about three minutes left in the second. The Nittany Lions were threatening late in the period looking to get one back before the end of the frame but couldn’t get the job done. Penn State went into intermission down two despite outshooting Minnesota 25-22.
Penn State needed to play a near-perfect third period to come out on top in this one — but the one-man wrecking crew of Bristedt got the best of Jones again, recording a hat-trick to give the Gophers a 5-2 lead.
The Nittany Lions couldn’t get anything substantial going in the final period, failing to get a goal in the third. Even though Penn State outshot Minnesota 40-28 in the game, the Gophers finished on top in this one by a score of 5-2 earning the weekend sweep over the Nittany Lions
Player Of The Game
Leon Bristedt | Junior | Forward
The junior from Sweden was all over the ice Saturday night against the Nittany Lions. He scored three goals, including a shorthanded and power play tally to give the Gophers a 5-2 victory and complete the weekend sweep over Penn State.
Gadowsky’s Nittany Lions will travel to No. 18 Wisconsin for a weekend series against the Badgers. The first of the two-game set will be on Friday with the puck scheduled to drop at 8 p.m.