Men’s Hockey Slips Past Minnesota 5-3, Snaps Four-Game Losing Streak
Penn State ended a four-game losing streak and split a series with Minnesota in a 5-3 win on Saturday night. The Nittany Lions preserved through a neck-and-neck matchup with determination, not frustration, proving essential. Defensemen Luke Juha and Zach Saar took a more offense-oriented role in Penn State’s first-ever win at Mariucci Arena.
How It Happened
The first minutes of play were rather stale, with a generally even shot-count between the two Big Ten title contenders. Matt Mendelson’s first collegiate goal came at the right time, a rebounded shot 10:43 minutes into the first. It gave the Nittany Lions momentum they carried through the period into a successful penalty kill. Eamon McAdam kept the 1-0 lead intact between the pipes with sprawling saves abound. By the period’s end, Minnesota had a 12-8 shot lead, but Penn State capitalized when it counted.
The second period was far more eventful. David Glen widened Penn State’s lead 2-0 early on with the help of his No. 7 powerplay unit in the nation. The Gophers capitalized from the spot on an extra man opportunity of their own to get on the board with 11:49 left in the period. Their fans got loud (but not louder than the Roar Zone, of course) and they struck again to tie it up 2-2 with 10:11 left. Hobey Baker contestant and defenseman Luke Juha proved his worth, stealing the lead back at 8:57. The teams battled neck-and-neck for the duration until Minnesota hammered in a shorthanded equalizer with 39.7 seconds left. The teams headed into the final 20 minutes with a clean slate and an air of uncertainty. Minnesota had a 23-18 shot edge, for whatever it’s worth.
Goodwin and Sturtz played off each other for all-but-in chances, and Minnesota goalie Scheirhorn was up to task. Minnesota’s Taylor Cammarata threatened to steal the lead off a rebound on a 3-on-2 break with 13:20 left in regulation. Gadowsky challenged the goal, and it was waived off because Minnesota was offsides. The teams remained tied at 3 as Minnesota tallied a few more chances than Penn State. Sturtz set Goodwin up in front of the net for the closest chance in tail-end of the period, but he couldn’t capitalize. Both goalies proved absolutely crucial in the closest minutes of the game.
It seemed like the Big Ten matchup would head into overtime. Zach Saar saved us a heart attack and took a 4-3 lead for Penn State straight off Chase Berger’s faceoff win with 3:51 left to play. In the final minutes Minnesota pulled its goalie. Kenny Brooks sealed Penn State’s 5-3 win, netting an empty-netter with 10.2 seconds left to play.
Player Of The Game
Although Zach Saar was in the penalty box tonight, it wasn’t his fault. He quite literally took one for the team, since Penn State got called on too many players. His goal showed the fresh off a faceoff hustle it takes to win a close game. He saw an opportunity and ran with it, shifting the wishy-washy momentum of the game in the process.
Penn State heads to East Lansing for a series with Big Ten foe Michigan State.