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Penn State Men’s Hockey Earns First Big Ten Win, Upsets No. 7 Minnesota 5-3

Penn State (7-5-0, Big Ten 1-4-0) took down No. 7 Minnesota (7-6-0, Big Ten (4-3-0) at 3M Arena at Mariucci to earn its first conference win of the season Friday night.

Connor MacEachern scored two power play goals, as Oskar Autio turned away 33 of 36 shots to propel the Nittany Lions to victory.

How It Happened

Guy Gadowsky went with Oskar Autio in goal for the Nittany Lions.

After a calm start for both teams, Autio made the first big save of the game as Minnesota’s Chaz Lucius tried to walk in and beat the Penn State netminder. After a few chances were traded back-and-forth, freshman forward Ryan Kirwan netted his third goal of the season off a great pass from Simon Mack to give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead at 6:41 of the first period.

The Nittany Lions kept the pressure on the Golden Gophers, but Minnesota goalie Jack LaFontaine kept his team’s deficit at one goal. Momentum in the game started to even out until Minnesota’s Matthew Knies tied the game at 1-1 with 32 seconds remaining in the first period by burying his own rebound. The first period ended with Penn State trailing Minnesota 11-9 in shots on goal.

Penn State got off to a slow start in the second period, as freshman forward Carson Dyck took a tripping penalty at 2:53 of the period to give Minnesota the game’s first power play. It didn’t take long for the Golden Gophers to cash in, as Minnesota’s Jaxon Nelson beat Autio on the back door to give his team a 2-1 lead at 3:32 of the second period.

Less than one minute later, Minnesota took a cross-checking penalty at 4:12 to give Penn State its first power play of the game. Connor MacEachern quickly took advantage, scoring from the point to tie the game at 2-2 at 4:57 of the second period. Connor McMenamin provided a beautiful screen of Jack LaFontaine that paved the way for MacEachern’s goal.

Just when Penn State was getting the momentum, Ben Copeland took a hooking penalty at 8:18 of the second period. The Nittany Lions killed the penalty with ease, and Copeland broke out on a breakaway out of the box and sniped the puck past LaFontaine to give Penn State a 3-2 lead at 10:29 of the second period.

From there, momentum in the game kept shifting back-and-forth, but neither team had any grade-A chances. Christian Sarlo then took an unnecessary minor penalty for boarding at 17:38 of the second period to give Minnesota its third power play of the game. Jaxon Nelson then found himself alone in the high slot and beat Autio with a shot to tie the game at 3-3 with only 62 seconds remaining in the second period. The period ended with Penn State getting outshot 20-23 by the Golden Gophers.

The third period started with Autio robbing Minnesota’s Ben Myers from scoring an open-net goal. Danny Dzhaniyev was then taken down as Minnesota was called for a cross-checking penalty to send Penn State to its second power play of the game. Connor MacEachern, again, fired a shot through traffic and beat LaFontaine to give Penn State a 4-3 lead at 2:10 of the third period. Less than one minute later, Chase McLane found himself alone with the puck in the high slot and fired a shot past LaFontaine to put the Nittany Lions up 5-3 over the Golden Gophers at 3:08 of the period.

Simon Mack was called for a holding penalty at 5:42 of the period to send Minnesota to its fourth man advantage of the game. Penn State was steadily killing the penalty off, but Kenny Johnson got called for interference to give Minnesota 31 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play chance. The Nittany Lions shut Minnesota down on both penalties and were able to successfully kill both.

LaFontaine went to the bench for the extra skater with 1:58 left in the third period, but the Golden Gophers couldn’t cash in with the extra skater, and the game ended with Penn State upsetting Minnesota 5-3/

Takeaways

  • Penn State’s power play was absolutely on point tonight, going a perfect 2 for 2. Connor MacEachern was the one who scored both power play goals for the Nittany Lions, but the traffic that was beautifully set up in front of LaFontaine paved the way for both goals.
  • Taking too many unecessary penalties has been a theme for the Nittany Lions all season, and it was certainly present in tonight’s game. Most notably, Christian Sarlo’s borading penalty that led to Minnesota’s game-tying goal in the waning minutes of the second period was very far behind the puck. Penn State needs to eliminate penalties like that. The penalty kill still came up huge for the Nittany Lions as it killed off Minnesota’s 31-second 5-on-3 man advantage in the middle of the third period.
  • Earlier in the week, Guy Gadowsky said that Penn State was too fragile in the games against Ohio State and Michigan, but his squad certainly reversed that narrative tonight. The Nittany Lions were down one goal early in the second period, but they kept their eyes on the prize and responded with two quick goals. Penn State exhibited its mental tougness again when it killed Minnesota’s 5-on-3 power play in the third period.

What’s Next

Penn State will attempt to complete the series sweep over the Golden Gophers at 9 p.m. on Saturday, November 20. The game can be streamed on BTN+.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at [email protected]

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