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Penn State Hockey Defeats No. 17 Minnesota In Overtime

Needing to put the brakes on a three-game losing skid, Penn State men’s hockey defeated No. 17 Minnesota 4-3 in overtime on Saturday night, earning a weekend split. With the win, Penn State claims its eighth conference victory to move within two points of the Golden Gopher’s conference-leading 27 points.

Freshman Scott Conway added two goals and an assist, P.J. Musico totaled 32 saves, and Luke Juha sent the Pegula crowd home with a smile after scoring the game-winner in overtime.

How It Happened

Both teams had trouble finding any offense after the opening faceoff, with the first shot coming two and a half minutes into the game on Musico. After five minutes of play, shots were just one apiece, as both high-powered offenses couldn’t sustain any pressure during a back-and-forth tilt.

A poor cross-ice pass by Luke Juha in his own defensive end six minutes into the first period nearly led to the game’s opening goal for Minnesota, but Musico was able to smother the open shot from just inside the right circle. A tripping call on Minnesota’s Leon Bristedt less than a minute later gave Penn State’s its first powerplay opportunity of the night, one that would pay big dividends for the Lions.

After holding possession along the boards for most of the man-advantage, the puck slipped behind the Gopher’s net where it was corralled by Curtis Loik. Loik quickly spun to the front of the net for a wraparound attempt, but it was tipped by the stick of teammate Scott Conway. Loik scooped up his own rebound and buried it past Minnesota’s Adam Wilcox to give Penn State a 1-0 lead with 12:33 remaining in the first period.

Five minutes later, a fortuitous bounce helped Penn State add to their early lead. Dylan Richard flipped the puck toward the Minnesota end where it bounced over the stick of a Gophers’ defender, allowing Conway to settle it down and skate in 1-0n-1. A fabulous deke by the young freshman crossed up the defender, allowing Conway to walk in alone where he buried a backhanded shot past Wilcox for the 2-0 lead.

The second period began with Minnesota on the powerplay after Patrick Koudys was whistled for interference at the end of the first. The Gophers kept up the pressure during the man-advantage, but Musico stood strong, coming up with three saves. As was the case in Friday night’s loss, Penn State’s frequent penalties proved to be costly. Casey Bailey was called for hooking with 12 minutes remaining in the period, and Minnesota’s Travis Boyd blasted one past Musico on the powerplay to bring the Gophers within one, 2-1.

Despite giving up his first goal, Musico remained undaunted, coming up with big save after big save as the Gophers started attacking the offensive zone with increased vigor. Minnesota’s Brady Skjei was called for interference with just under six minutes left to put Penn State on the powerplay, but it was quickly turned into a 4-0n-4 when Bailey earned his second penalty of the night for interference.

On the 4-0n-4, the game turned into the “Scott Conway show” for the second time. After deflecting a pass at center ice, Conway grabbed the loose puck and skated down the right wing on a 2-0n-1 with Eric Scheid. A quick give-and-go between the duo led to a wide open shot for Conway, who buried his second goal of the game to give Penn State a 3-1 lead.

But Minnesota would have an answer. Just 37 second later, with the 4-0n-4 turning into a Gophers’ powerplay, Tyler Boyd scored his second of the night to bring Minnesota back within one, 3-2, with 3:39 left in the second period.

With 11:42 left in the third period, Scheid was whistled for tripping to give Gophers their sixth powerplay of the night. Penn State would keep Minnesota off the scoreboard this time, however, with Musico again looming large in net. Conway and Scheid nearly paired up for another goal as the penalty expired, but Scheid’s intial shot was blocked and Wilcox swept the puck away before a trailing Conway could scoop it up.

With the crowd on their feet cheering on what looked to be a sure Penn State victory, Sam Warning spoiled the party by tying the score 3-3 with 39.6 seconds left.

In overtime, Penn State would get the last laugh when Minnesota was whistled for elbowing three minutes into the extra frame. Luke Juha would light the lamp on the power play to ignite the Pegula crowd, giving Penn State a much-needed victory over the Big Ten’s top team.

Player of the Game

Scott Conway. Juha gets the attention for scoring the OT game-winner, but Conway had a brilliant night on the ice. The freshman, playing on the wing for the first time all season, scored two goals and was a force on both ends of the ice, forcing turnovers that led to multiple offensive chances. Coach Gadowsky praised Conway’s effort, calling it “his best overall game.”

Quote of the Game

“Especially on THON weekend, these kids battle so hard, and I think we did the same thing,” Luke Juha said after the game. “THON is such an inspirational thing for our school, so after this we’re going to go practice our pep rally dance and hopefully we can add another win.”

Game Notes

  • Penn State defeated Minnesota for the first time in program history. With the win, Penn State now owns at least one victory over every Big Ten opponent.
  • For just the fifth time all season, Penn State was outshot by its opponent, 35-34.
  • Penn State earned its first OT victory in six tries this season, improving to 1-1-4. The last Penn State overtime win came in the 2014 Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals, a 2-1 victory over Michigan in double OT.
  • P.J. Musico has proven himself to be a secret weapon against the Gophers. Musico has stopped at least 32 shots in every appearance against Minnesota with a .935 save percentage in three appearances and 101 saves in 179 minutes.

What’s Next?

Penn State heads to Columbus next weekend for a two-game series with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Friday’s opener is set for 6:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network, while Saturday’s game is slated for 7 p.m.

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About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.


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