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No. 7 Penn State Men’s Hockey Drops Overtime Heartbreaker To No. 2 Minnesota 3-2

No. 7 Penn State men’s hockey (19-12-1, 9-12-1 Big Ten) dropped a heartbreaker 3-2 to No. 2 Minnesota (23-8-1, 17-4-1 Big Ten) to wrap up the season series between the two teams.

Matthew Knies scores two goals, including the overtime winner, to pull the Golden Gophers past Penn State in overtime.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions had a lot of questions and very little time to answer them after their demoralizing 7-2 loss to Minnesota in game one on Friday night. Not wanting to press the panic button, head coach Guy Gadowsky stuck with usual starter Liam Souliere despite his disappointing performance in Friday night’s loss.

Penn State needed a hot start and it got it almost immediately, as Ture Linden beat Justen Close high glove side to give the Nittany Lions a big 1-0 lead just 29 seconds into regulation. Christian Sarlo got the lone assist on the goal, his second straight game with a point.

Ashton Calder nearly found the back of the net for the second time in as many nights but Close shut the door to keep Penn State’s lead at one.

Outside of the first 29 seconds, the remainder of the first 10 minutes of the first period was very uneventful.

In his first game back in over a month, sophomore Ryan Kirwan nearly beat Close with a rifle of a shot, but the senior flashed the leather to make an unbelievable glove save.

Penn State was given the first power play of the game when freshman phenom Logan Cooley was called for tripping. Despite a few quality scoring chances, Cooley exited the box after the successful Minnesota kill with Penn State still up 1-0.

Just a few moments after the successful Minnesota kill, the Golden Gophers were rewarded with a power play of their own, as Calder was sent to the box for hooking. Souliere and the Nittany Lions were able to kill off the penalty, preserving their one-goal lead entering the final two minutes of the first period.

A dominant first period by Penn State came to an end with the Nittany Lions leading 1-0 while outshooting Minnesota 10-6.

As Penn State did in the first period, Minnesota came out scorching hot in the second period, and it was rewarded when Rhett Pitlick beat Souliere on the breakaway to tie the game at one. Connor Kurth was credited with the lone assist on Pitlick’s ninth goal of the season.

At the 12:35 mark of the second period, Minnesota found the back of the net but the play was ruled dead due to goaltender interference. The play would go under review but the call on the ice would stand.

Not a whole lot happened in the second period outside of the goal by Pitlick. Penn State still led in shots 16-13 heading into the third period.

The beginning of the third was very similar to the end of the second in that both teams went back and forth in the neurtal zone.

It wasn’t until the 17:58 mark of the third period when Penn State found a way to beat Close, giving it a 2-1 lead that it would lose. Danny Dzhaniyev was credited with the goal, his sixth of the year.

Minnesota would pull its goalie and it would prove beneficial, as Matthew Knies beat Souliere for his 19th of the year to tie the game with just over 40 seconds remaining in the third period. This game would need overtime to determine a winner.

Both teams traded blows in the early portions of overtime but it was Minnesota that was able to use its speed to outlast Penn State. Knies found the back of the net again, this time for the win. Penn State dropped the series finale 3-2.

Takeaways

  • Despite the loss, Saturday night was a much-needed bounce-back performance from Penn State goaltender Liam Souliere. While he didn’t face as much pressure as he did in Friday’s loss, the junior played well, stopping all but three of Minnesota’s 32 shots.
  • Penn State’s ability to bounce back from what was a really bad loss should definitely be noted. Less than 24 hours after the Nittany Lions got blown out, they came out and went toe-to-toe with the No. 2 team in the nation.
  • With both teams playing disciplined, physical hockey, it became more clear that whoever made the biggest play in the biggest moment would win the game, and that’s exactly what happened when Matthew Knies scored the game-tying and go-ahead goal in the third period and overtime, respectively, to lead Minnesota to the win.

What’s Next?

Penn State will finish off its regular season when it hosts the Wisconsin Badgers for a two-game series beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 24.

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About the Author

Devon Craley

Devon is a junior studying sports journalism. He has the genuine misfortune of being a Philadelphia sports fan...IYKYK. Send your hot takes and preferably your freezing cold takes on Twitter to @devon3134. Devon is also your friendly, neighborhood State College movie nerd.

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