Defender Vince Pedrie Leads No. 14 Men’s Hockey Past Minnesota 3-2 In Overtime
Guy Gadowsky’s Nittany Lions returned to Pegula Ice Arena for the first time since defeating his “previous institution,” as James Franklin would say, Princeton, 6-3, on Dec. 11. Nearly a month later, No. 14 Penn State took to home ice for a highly anticipated televised showdown with Big Ten foe Minnesota.
The Nittany Lions improved to 13-3-3 (3-0-0-0 Big Ten) on the season thanks to a clutch 3-2 overtime victory against Minnesota (8-9, 3-2-0-0 Big Ten) on Friday night in front of a packed house. The game-winner came from the stick of freshman defenseman Vince Pedrie.
How It Happened
Penn State enjoys one of the best home ice advantages in college hockey thanks to a sold-out crowd present for each tilt in Pegula this season, along with the the always-raucous Roar Zone. The Nittany Lion faithful have enjoyed their fair share of fireworks here in Hockey Valley throughout the first 11 games of the 2015-16 campaign, and Friday night was no different.
Gadowsky’s bunch has been led in large part by a strong senior class, which ranked No. 4 in all of Division I with 86 total points heading into the team’s second Big Ten series of the season. Starters Kenny Brooks and Curtis Loik are a big reason why, with a team-high 18 points (six goals and 12 assists apiece). The boys in blue and white — who have no trouble putting away goals as evidenced by their 4.39 per-game average heading into Friday night (second in the nation behind only St. Cloud State’s 4.50) — were locked in a defensive battle early in the first period against the Golden Gophers.
Penn State’s penalty kill looked excellent in the first period, but unfortunately couldn’t get much going on the opposite end of the ice when playing with a Golden Gopher in the box. Goalie Eamon McAdam, who’s putting together a stellar season between the pipes, busted a pair of dangerous breakaways midway through the first 20 minutes to keep Minnesota off the scoreboard. The Nittany Lions controlled the faceoff in the first period with 12 won to Minnesota’s eight while the Golden Gophers led 13-8 in the shooting category.
Thankfully, junior forward Zach Saar wasted little time creating some all-important momentum for Penn State by crashing the net and finishing a nifty goal on touted freshman netminder Eric Schierhorn to make it 1-0 Nittany Lions just over two minutes into the second frame. The go-ahead effort marked Saar’s third goal of the season.
Penn State continued a dominant second period by scoring yet again less than five minutes later on a filthy backhanded goal from freshman forward Andrew Sturtz to make it 2-0, giving the Nittany Lions some breathing room with his ninth goal of the season. Sturtz went on to receive the game’s third star for his performance.
The Nittany Lions battled through a brutal five-on-three shorthanded stint, but managed to break the penalty and return to full strength by deploying some outstanding team defense, led, of course, by McAdam. The tough junior from Perkasie, Pa., was a bit slow to pop back up after enduring a barrage of hard shots on net during the trying span.
McAdam’s tremendous showing through the first two periods proved essential, as the Nittany Lions successfully extended their streak of closing contests to 13-0 on the season when leading after 40 minutes of play. However, they had to deal with some added adversity this time around as freshman forward Brent Gates Jr. quieted Pegula with a pair of back-to-back goals in the third period to tie things up at 2-2. McAdam’s play was enough to earn him the night’s first star.
Regulation wasn’t enough time to decide a winner, so both teams took the ice for another hard-fought five minutes. Pegula erupted when freshman defenseman Vince Pedrie corralled passes from Tommy Olcyzk and Erik Autio and found the back of the net with 1:03 left to play. Pedrie’s huge goal staved off a tie and provided three essential points for the Nittany Lions, who now sit atop the conference standings alongside Minnesota with nine points and a perfect 3-0 Big Ten record thus far.
Although the Golden Gophers rattled off four more shots than Penn State (42-38) when the final whistle blew — a rarity given the team’s high-powered offense that averaged a Division I-leading 45.17 shots per game heading into Friday’s tilt — Gadowsky’s Nittany Lions displayed tremendous grit in bringing home their second-ever victory (2-7 all-time) over Minnesota in program history. The only other win, a 4-3 overtime thriller, was a memorable one, as it came at home in Pegula on Feb. 21, 2015 midway through last year’s THON weekend.
Player Of The Game
Vince Pedrie | Freshman | Defenseman
While Saar and Sturtz deserve plenty of credit for their key scores to give Penn State an early 2-0 lead, along with McAdam’s whopping 40 saves which undoubtedly key, Pedrie’s fourth goal of the season was absolutely enormous and blew the roof off Pegula. Plus, the Rochester, Minn., native was awarded the game’s second star against his home-state program. Well done, Vince.
The 14th-ranked Nittany Lions return to Pegula Saturday afternoon for a second clash with Minnesota at 3:00 p.m. ET to determine whether Gadowsky’s bunch can finish the home series sweep. Penn State will meet Don Lucia’s Golden Gophers twice more on the road in Minneapolis in early February.