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No. 7 Penn State Men’s Hockey Dominated 7-2 By No. 2 Minnesota

No. 7 Penn State men’s hockey (19-11-1 overall, 9-11-1 Big Ten) lost 7-2 to No. 2 Minnesota (22-8-1 overall, 16-4-1 Big Ten) at Pegula Ice Arena.

Having just clinched their second consecutive Big Ten regular season title, the Golden Gophers dominated from the start, cruising to a 7-2 victory. Guy Gadowsky elected to pull goaltender Liam Souliere after giving up four scores in early action. Multiple Golden Gophers, including Jimmy Snuggerud and Logan Cooley, were key contributors on multiple scoring plays.

How It Happened

In Penn State’s first home game in nearly a month, Gadowsky opted for Connor McMenamin, Connor MacEachern, and Kevin Wall on his starting forward line. Meanwhile, Dylan Gratton and Simon Mack started on defense, with Liam Souliere slotted as the starting goaltender.

Minnesota was on the attack as soon as the puck dropped. The Golden Gophers challenged Souliere immediately with multiple shots, including a chance right in front of the crease — and another shot that bounced off the goal post. Penn State responded by doing the same, giving Justen Close his first challenge of the evening.

After Close froze the puck, Minnesota won the face-off and immediately rushed down to the other end of the ice. Connor Kurth finished a one-timer in front of the net to make it 1-0 Golden Gophers at 6:47 in the first period.

At 12:46, Aaron Huglen took a two-minute minor for holding, giving Penn State its first power play opportunity of the game. Besides Danny Dzhaniyev’s shot that Close saved with ease, the Nittany Lions’ offense was quiet.

Penn State was punished for its lackluster offensive attack, as Minnesota scored once again. At 18:32 in the period, Jimmy Snuggerud ripped a shot past Souliere to make it 2-0 Minnesota.

The first period ended 2-0, with Minnesota outplaying Penn State.

The Gophers wasted no time in the second period, as Matthew Knies made it 3-0 for Minnesota just 39 seconds after the puck drop.

Minnesota’s scoring fiasco continued furiously. Ryan Johnson nabbed a top-shelf snipe on Souliere, making it 4-0 at 2:56 in the second period. Gadowsky benched Souliere in favor of freshman Noah Grannan, who last appeared against Ohio State before the bye week.

Despite a scuffle that involved multiple players from both sides, only Ture Linden and Jarod Crespo were held accountable. Linden received a five-minute major, while Crespo received a minor for their roles in the altercation.

Minnesota quickly capitalized on the power play to make it 5-0, with Jimmy Snuggerud scoring his second goal of the night at 13:13 in the second period. Then, Jackson LaCombe scored three minutes later at 10:16 to make it 6-0.

By this point, the atmosphere at Pegula Ice Arena had died down significantly, as any attempted comeback would be a long shot. However, that didn’t stop Penn State from ending Close’s shutout bid, as Christian Sarlo scored at 5:33 to make it 6-1.

Minnesota grabbed one more goal in the second period, with Logan Cooley making it 7-1 at 3:45 in the second period. Cooley already had four assists on the night so far.

The second period ended with Minnesota up by a whopping 7-1 margin.

Penn State got a chance on the power play to begin the third period, with Kurth going to the sin bin for boarding. The recurring theme throughout the night remained true, and the Nittany Lions’ offense was quiet.

Snuggerud then took a penalty for the Golden Gophers, this time a two-minute tripping minor. Penn State had control of the puck for some of the power play’s duration and took some shots on goal, but to no avail.

Minnesota eventually pulled Close, replacing him with Owen Bartoszkiewicz. Close had a successful night with just one goal allowed and over 30 saves.

Penn State grabbed a goal at 17:06 in the third period to make it 7-2, with Ashton Calder scoring his ninth of the season. Calder was assisted by Linden and Jimmy Dowd Jr.

The game ultimately ended 7-2 in a Minnesota victory.

Takeaways

  • Where does one even start? Every game remaining on the schedule is pretty much a must-win game for Penn State if it is to have a good seed in the Big Ten tournament. The Nittany Lions were flat-out awful, and tonight they didn’t even look like a team worthy of playing in the Big Ten tournament.
  • Liam Souliere hasn’t looked like himself recently. The netminder has allowed 16 goals in his last four appearances despite some solid numbers overall this season.
  • Despite the blowout loss, Penn State actually led Minnesota in shots on goal and faceoffs won. Surely, the coaching staff will wonder what else needs to happen in order for the final score to change in its favor.

What’s Next

Penn State and Minnesota will finish the series tomorrow on Saturday, February 18, with puck drop scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Pegula Ice Arena.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a third-year journalism major from Silver Spring, Maryland, which means he's an avid fan of all D.C. sports teams. If Nolan isn't writing about or watching sports, you can probably find him listening to all sorts of music or traveling. To keep up with Nolan, you can follow him on Twitter @nolan_wick or email him at [email protected].

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