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No. 8 Penn State Men’s Hockey Upsets No. 1 Minnesota 4-2

No. 8 Penn State men’s hockey (10-1-0, 4-1 Big Ten) defeated No. 1 Minnesota (7-4, 3-2 Big Ten) 4-2 in Minneapolis at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Thursday night.

The Nittany Lions took down the No. 1 team for the second week in a row thanks to a strong defensive performance and consistently capitalizing on Minnesota’s mistakes. The Gophers nearly took the game to overtime, but Penn State came through to secure the victory.

How It Happened

Penn State’s “identity line” got the start in Minneapolis with Liam Souliere as the usual starting goaltender. The line combined for seven points in last week’s series against Michigan.

Penn State started off well against Minnesota. The Nittany Lions applied pressure, forcing multiple turnovers and making Justen Close work hard in goal.

Then, at 6:15 in the first period, Penn State opened the scoring. Speeding down the ice, Connor McMenamin and Connor MacEachern had a two-on-one with plenty of space. McMenamin passed to MacEachern, who sent a one-timer flying passed a diving Close to make it 1-0 Nittany Lions. Carter Schade was also credited with an assist, who set up McMenamin with a pass.

The Nittany Lions continued to outplay the Golden Gophers. Minnesota had a few dangerous chances against Souliere, but Penn State quickly broke up plays and didn’t allow the Gophers to keep the puck for too long at a time.

Penn State had more dangerous chances against Close, but he made several big saves to keep the Nittany Lions from scoring more than one goal in the first period. Close made ten saves in the first period, while Souliere only had to make four on the opposite side.

Contrary to the first period, Minnesota came out hot. The likes of Brock Faber and Matthew Knies showed up early in the period and established a strong push against Souliere and the Nittany Lions.

Within a few minutes after puck drop in the second period, Minnesota tied the game 1-1. Logan Cooley maneuvered past a Penn State defenseman, then fed the puck to Bryce Brodzinski, who beat Souliere in front of the net to make it 1-1 at 2:34 in the second period.

Minnesota continued to dominate the period. The Gophers took shot after shot and didn’t let up.

Penn State’s defense and Souliere held strong, though. Christian Berger broke up a two-on-one, and Souliere made several impressive saves to deny Minnesota.

Then, Jimmy Snuggerud took the game’s first penalty for Minnesota. Snuggerud’s two-minute minor was for slashing, but Penn State could barely generate anything positive.

Shortly after Snuggerud’s penalty expired, Christian Sarlo was called for hooking at 17:44 in the period. Minnesota didn’t score.

When Sarlo got out of the penalty box, he put his skills on full display. After picking up a pass and getting a breakaway, Sarlo waited for a Gopher to dive before having a wide-open shot at the net, which he capitalized on and beat Close to make it 2-1 Penn State with less than a minute to go in the second period.

Although Minnesota dominated the period, it headed to the locker room down 2-1.

Penn State wasted no time building off its momentum from the late goal in the second period. Just 48 seconds into the third period, Penn State forced a turnover to set up Connor MacEachern. MacEachern scored his second goal of the night, making his snipe look effortless to put the Nittany Lions up 3-1.

Just a few minutes later, Minnesota set up an odd-man rush. Aaron Huglen scored his first goal of the season for Minnesota in a similar style to MacEachern’s second goal to make it 3-2 at 4:26 in the third period. Guy Gadowsky challenged for offsides, but the call was upheld.

Both teams continued playing well in a tightly contested third period. Each team had several good chances, with both goaltenders continuing to come up big.

Minnesota made a massive push as the clock ticked away. Penn State’s defense held strong and continued to deny the Gophers. Close was pulled, and Ashton Calder scored an empty-netter to complete a 4-2 upset against Minnesota.

Takeaways

  • Connor MacEachern shined in Penn State’s win. He scored two goals in the game, marking his fourth and fifth goals of the season.
  • Both goaltenders were outstanding and kept their teams in the game. Liam Souliere made 24 saves, while Justen Close made 27. Both players made several very impressive saves during the game.
  • Penn State did a great job forcing turnovers. Those turnovers allowed the Nittany Lions to set up chances against Minnesota, which is a big reason why they put up four goals on the No. 1 team in the nation.

What’s Next

Penn State and Minnesota will finish the series tomorrow in Minneapolis with puck drop scheduled for 8 p.m. EST.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a sophomore majoring in journalism. From the Maryland side of the D.C. suburbs, Nolan likes using Old Bay and is a diehard Washington sports fan, which isn't fun these days. If you want to keep in touch with Nolan, follow him on Instagram @_nolanwick or on Twitter @nolan_wick.

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