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Penn State Men’s Hockey Eliminated From Big Ten Tournament In 3-2 Loss To No. 2 Minnesota

Penn State’s season came to an end Saturday night in Minneapolis, as the Nittany Lions fell in a close battle to No. 2 Minnesota 3-2.

After falling behind 2-0 early in the second period, Tyler Paquette and Dylan Lugris helped Penn State tie the game at 2-2 heading into the third period. After a solid third-period performance, the Nittany Lions turned the puck over and gave up a goal with 2:39 left in the game to trail 3-2.

How It Happened

The Golden Gophers came into the game as the top seed in the Big Ten and the second-ranked team in the country.

Head coach Guy Gadowsky gave the nod to goaltender Liam Souliere in the Nittany Lions’ biggest game this season on an Olympic-sized rink at 3M Arena.

The Golden Gophers put plenty of pressure on Souliere, as they tried to capitalize after Penn State lost the puck several times. However, Souliere had five saves through the first 11 minutes of the first period.

Despite a solid defensive effort, Minnesota struck first after forward Ben Meyers’s goal off of a deflection at the 12:04 point of the first period. Following the game’s first point, the Golden Gophers led 1-0.

The Nittany Lions put together quite an offensive possession, putting up five shots in under a minute. Still, there was a complete turnaround as they turned the puck over. Officials called defenseman Simon Mack on a two-minute minor penalty for holding only seconds before the period’s close.

The first period gave both teams several scoring opportunities as Minnesota had 13 shots on goal and Penn State had 12, but it was a low-scoring period, with only one goal scored.

It only took 27 seconds for the Minnesota power play to come to an end in the second period as defenseman Jackson LaCombe extended his squad’s lead 2-0.

Penn State ramped up its offensive effort as the second period progressed, but Justen Close made five saves through the first ten minutes of the period. Emotions were running high with a lot on the line and things got chippy around the net.

At 14:58 in the second period, forward Tyler Paquette made things interesting, scoring a sweet goal as he passed through Minnesota’s defense, cutting the lead to 2-1.

Shortly after the goal, Penn State got another gift, as Minnesota forward Tristan Broz was called for roughing and given two minutes in the penalty box.

Penn State capitalized on the power play opportunity as a red-hot forward named Dylan Lugris tied the contest 2-2 at the 17:35 mark of the second period.

At the end of the second period, Penn State led the shots on goal battle 25-21.

The third period’s start set a clean slate for both teams with the tie game. The Nittany Lions had built plenty of momentum at the end of the second period.

Penn State’s offensive surge came to a slow, but the shots on goal kept rolling, as it had three throughout the first 15 minutes of the final period.

Penn State forward Kevin Wall had the period’s best scoring opportunity but ultimately missed the net.

Minnesota took then a 3-2 lead at 17:21 when forward Sammy Walker found the back of the net. The Nittany Lions sent Souliere to the bench for one final push with little time remaining. However, it did not matter, as Walker’s goal was the final push to send Minnesota to the Big Ten championship game.

Takeaways

  • The third period was stellar for the Nittany Lions despite the outcome. They put up five more shots on goal in a harsh environment and gave Minnesota a scare towards the end of the game. The skaters moved the net a couple of times during action, which ended the play, but those were in the middle of some great Penn State scoring chances.
  • Penn State fought hard throughout the entire game, and nobody thought they would get this far. Despite a few defensive lapses and ultimatley losing the game, the Nittany Lions should be proud with their performance.

What’s Next?

Penn State’s season is almost certainly over, as the Nittany Lions will most likely not find its way in the NCAA Tournament this spring.

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About the Author

Gabriel Herman

Gabriel Herman is a journalism major at Penn State from Minneapolis, MN. He writes about several sports-related topics. If you want to discuss great moments in Minnesota sports history, you can reach him at [email protected]

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