Penn State Hockey Blanked By No. 15 Minnesota 5-0
In the biggest game of the season to date, Penn State was outclassed by No. 15 Minnesota on Friday in Minneapolis, conceding three goals in the the opening minutes in a 5-0 loss.
In addition to the embarrassing margin of defeat, the loss is particularly excruciating given the major ramifications in the Big Ten. Entering Friday night’s game, Penn State trailed conference leaders Michigan and Minnesota by just two points in the standings. With a win, the Lions would have overtaken the Gophers to claim first place, inching ever closer to a regular season title and automatic NCAA Tournament bid. But it wasn’t to be, as Minnesota came out playing inspired hockey to bury the Lions.
How It Happened
Penn State hoped to find an early lead when Eric Scheid found a streaking Scott Conway in the opening minutes, but Minnesota’s Adam Wilcox came up with the save to prevent what could have been a game-altering goal. After peppering goaltender Eamon McAdam early, Penn State’s Zach Saar would be called for hooking midway through the period to give the nation’s best powerplay unit the man advantage. The Gophers capitalized on the mistake, as Kyle Rau scored his 17th of the season to take 1-0 lead.
Just two minutes later, the lead ballooned to 2-0 after Justin Kloos sneaked a wraparound attempt past McAdam. Not quite finished yet, Minnesota added a third tally with just over five minutes to go in the opening frame when Hudson Fasching hammered home a feed from Mike Reilly. The Lions could only muster six shots on goal compared to the Gophers’ 18, trailing by three heading into the first intermission.
Needing a spark, Penn State would earn five powerplay chances over the next period and a half, but failed to score on any of them. Casey Bailey was whistled for a highly questionable boarding penalty to cut the fifth man advantage short, as Penn State’s star forward was assessed a five-minute major.
Desperate for a goal, Guy Gadowsky chose to pull McAdam with more than three minutes to play, a decision that would ultimately backfire when Leon Bristedt scored an empty-netter for a 4-0 lead with 3:15 remaining. Vinny Lettieri scored Minnesota’s fifth goal just 30 seconds later, causing frustrations to boil over for the Nittany Lions. A scrum broke out after the goal, leading to Scott Conway’s dismissal from the game due to a contact to the head major penalty and a 10-minute game misconduct.
Player of the Game
Kyle Rau. The Gophers’ star was all over the ice, scoring a goal and two assists with a +2 rating to help his team earn its biggest win of the season. Rau might get chastised by the Penn State fanbase for his size, but in a do-or-die game, the 5-f00t-8 captain played large.
Quote of the Game
“That’s not Penn State Hockey,” head coach Gadowsky said when addressing Conway’s game misconduct. “There’s no place for that, I’m very disappointed that took place.”
It remains to be seen whether Conway will receive additional punishment for his actions on Friday, but we can only hope the freshman learned his lesson.
- Penn State finished with 18 shots, the fewest in a single game in the program’s Division I history. The previous low was 20 against Michigan last season.
- The Nittany Lions were shut out for just the second time this season. Penn State was blanked by Michigan State 3-0 in East Lansing on Feb. 13. And if you believe in voodoo and dark magic, here’s a coincidence for you: both games were Friday the 13th.
- The Gophers continue to be Penn State’s Achilles heel. Penn State fell to 1-6-0 all-time against Minnesota and 0-3-0 at Mariucci Arena.
- Penn State is now winless in its last five true road games. The last true road win came against Wisconsin on Dec. 6.
- Eamon McAdam finished with 35 saves in a loss, moving to 5-3-1 on the season.
Penn State and Minnesota will finish their respective regular seasons Saturday night at 8 p.m. inside Mariucci Arena. With a win, Penn State would earn the the No. 3 seed in next week’s Big Ten Tournament pending the results of Michigan-Michigan State.