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No. 9 Penn State Hockey Drops Second Game To No. 11 Minnesota 3-2

No. 9 Penn State hockey (0-2-0) dropped its second straight game to start the season against No. 11 Minnesota (2-0-0) 3-2 Friday afternoon.

Christian Sarlo and Kevin Wall scored the Nittany Lions’ only two goals of the game. True freshman goaltender Liam Soulière played great in his collegiate debut, making 24 saves.

How It Happened

Following the letdown from the previous night, the Nittany Lions came out flat. Penn State was a step behind the Golden Gophers early on and that led to an early power play for Minnesota following a slash by Evan Bell.

The ensuing penalty kill was chaotic for Penn State. Players looked confused and disjointed, which led to multiple Golden Gophers being left open down low during the power play. Towards the end of the power play, Scott Reedy was left wide open down low and softly redirected the puck through Liam Soulière legs for the early 1-0 lead.

The goal seemed to wake up the young Nittany Lions, as Penn State began to come more into the game. The Nittany Lions’ did a good job of pushing play into the offensive zone and that lead to a plethora of chances. Penn State was eventually able to break through after Christian Sarlo buried a 3-on-1 chance. Although Sarlo got the glory, Jared Westcott made the play happen by pick pocketing a Golden Gophers defender and feeding Sarlo on the breakout.

The Nittany Lions were flying high into intermission until a quick blue line to blue line pass lead to a breakaway for Sammy Walker and a goal for Minnesota with only one second left in the period. It was deflating for Penn State, who went into the first intermission down 2-1.

The second period started off with some promise as the Nittany Lions were gifted an early power play. Despite not scoring on the man advantage, Penn State spent the first half of the period as the better team, even though it didn’t find the back of the net.

About halfway through the second period, Tyler Gratton took a bad penalty in the offensive zone, giving Minnesota their second power play of the game. Similar to the first one, the Nittany Lions looked disjointed on the penalty kill. Penn State gave the Golden Gophers another odd-man advantage down low and Brandon McManus made the Nittany Lions pay. Following a promising start to the period, Penn State found itself down 3-1.

Following the goal, Penn State allowed Minnesota to keep pouring on the pressure. Luckily for Penn State, true freshmen netminder Liam Soulière made some big saves in his collegiate debut to keep the game 3-1 entering the second intermission.

The third period started uncharacteristically fast for Penn State. The Nittany Lions looked energized out of the break and were rewarded. Early in the period, Kevin “the godfather of Minnesota” Wall came down the wing and lofted a backhander on goal that somehow beat Jack LaFontaine. It was a bad goal but the Nittany Lions didn’t care, as they made it a 3-2 game.

The Nittany Lions then spent most of the third period as the better team. They were faster, crisper with their passes, and had more scoring chances. Penn State got a late power play that became nullified by another Tyler Gratton penalty. That power play then became nullified by another Minnesota penalty, giving Penn State a golden chance to tie the game with four minutes to go.

Penn State wan’t able to capitalize. Despite a spirited effort in the third period, the Nittany Lions couldn’t put another one past LaFontaine and fell to the Golden Gophers, 3-2.

Takeaways

  • The Nittany Lions may not have the most talented team, but this team is gutsy. Penn State got sucker-punched multiple times throughout the game but responded with fire and fury. A sweep to start the season at the hands of Minnesota is not the end of the world. The kids will be alright, especially as the season goes on.
  • Peyton Jones’ skates will be filled nicely. Liam Soulière made his collegiate debut and played great despite the loss. The indication of a great goalie is someone who can make the saves their not supposed to make. Souliére did that on multiple occasions and kept the Nittany Lions’ in the game. He and Oskar Autio will be a good duo for Penn State as the season progresses.
  • Some questions need to be asked of the defense. No one in that group played good during this first series. Expect Paul Denaples and Clayton Phillips to bounce back, but the rest of the group is going to have some growing pains. The penalty kill was also not good enough. Minnesotaa was 100 perecnt on the power play and the Nittany Lions left multiple Golden Gophers wide open down low during both penlaty kills and were punsihed for that. Penn State needs to sure up defensivly, unless it’s going to be a long season.

What’s Next?

Penn State will continue its road trip and travel to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers. Game one of the series will take place at 6 p.m. Monday from the Khol Center in Madison, Wisconsin. The game will be broadcast on BTN.

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About the Author

Connor Donohue

Connor is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. He hails from the great state of New Jersey and is proud of it. Lover of the greatest city in the world, New York City, he strongly dislikes the city of Philadelphia and will not hesitate to tell you that. He's also been cursed as a Penn State fan since birth. If you want to call him a bum or maybe go out on a date with him, follow him on twitter @ConnorDonohue00 or email him at [email protected]

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