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No. 18 Penn State Hockey Dominates Minnesota Again In 6-2 Victory

Minnesota simply can’t win at Pegula Ice Arena anymore, huh?

No. 18 Penn State men’s hockey (16-10-2, 8-9-1 Big Ten) capped off its series against the Golden Gophers (11-14-4, 8-9-3 Big Ten) with a 6-2 victory.

Nate Sucese, Alex Limoges, Brandon Biro, Nikita Pavlychev, and Chase Berger all found the back of the net for the Nittany Lions, who have now won three consecutive games and six straight against Minnesota at Pegula Ice Arena.

Peyton Jones made 22 saves to pick up his 11th win of the season.

How It Happened

Penn State thought it got off to the worst possible start to tonight’s game by allowing a goal 58 seconds into the first period, but it actually got off to a flying start. Brent Gates Jr. buried a back-door pass to seemingly give Minnesota an early lead, but it was overturned because the Gophers had too many men on the ice.

Instead, Nate Sucese streaked down the ice and buried a breakaway goal to give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead 2:10 into the first period. Sucese’s 12th of the season was unassisted.

Gates Jr. would get his goal late in the first period; he buried a shot past Jones from the high slot to tie the game at one entering the first intermission. Shots on goal were 11-8 after a strange first 20 minutes of play at Pegula Ice Arena.

Minnesota took its first lead of the game midway through the second period when Sammy Walker beat Peyton Jones with a wrist shot from the high slot. Penn State’s top line of Alex Limoges, Evan Barratt, and Liam Folkes squared things up less than a minute later by burying a power play goal.

Limoges potted his 16th of the season on the rebound after Liam Folkes was robbed by the right pad of Mat Robson. Brandon Biro followed that up with a greasy goal of his own to put the Nittany Lions back on top with 6:12 to play in the middle frame.

Golden Gopher forward Sampo Ranta was ejected for a violent boarding of Alec Marsh near the tail end of the second period, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t capitalize on their ensuing five-minute power play opportunity. Ludvig Larsson nearly doubled Penn State’s lead to 4-2 just as the five-minute major expired, but Mat Robson got across his crease and stonewalled him.

Nikita Pavlychev did manage to give the Nittany Lions that elusive insurance goal when he stuffed the puck in at the side of the net. Pavlychev’s 12th goal of the season was assisted by Larsson and Sucese, and he scored it on the power play while Jack Sadek — Minnesota’s top penalty killer — sat out for holding.

Chase Berger added his second tally in as many games after Pavlychev’s goal to extend the Penn State advantage to 5-2. Sucese put a beautiful shot past Robson late in the third period to put the icing on the cake of an excellent performance on all fronts.

Takeaways

  • As far as unsung heroes are concerned, Blake Gober had a strong game. He was Penn State’s most effective penalty killer, and the highlight of his night was a gritty effort in the first period in which he took a big hit in Minnesota’s end of the ice, but managed to recover and re-join the play defensively to block a slapper from the point. He also caught Minnesota defenseman Clayton Phillips with his head down in the third period and absolutely destroyed him, which got a nice roar from the crowd.
  • Nate Sucese is on a tear right now. The junior wing scored two goals and an assist tonight after another excellent game, and he’s scored a point in four of his last five games. His line with Ludvig Larsson and Denis Smirnov hasn’t always been the most productive this season, but Sucese has continued to be an impact player for Penn State.
  • Something’s changed when it comes to Penn State’s defense, because the unit played as well as it has all season this weekend. Allowing just four goals and less than 30 shots in consecutive games against a talented team isn’t world class, but it’s a huge step of progress for a blue line which has struggled to keep the puck out of its net.

What’s Next

Penn State will travel to Munn Ice Arena for a series against Michigan State next weekend. The series is set to kick off at 7 p.m. Friday, and the second game of the set will also begin at that time on Saturday.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

Mikey is a junior majoring in journalism and Onward State's Sports Editor. He grew up in Bedminster, NJ and is way too obnoxious about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is hard. If you're dying to see more hockey/golf content on your timeline, you can follow Mikey on Twitter @mikey_mandarino. Send all hate mail, death threats, and your vote for the best chicken parm in State College to [email protected]

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