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Penn State Men’s Hockey Falls 5-1 To Minnesota In Game One Of Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinal

No. 6-seeded Penn State men’s hockey (15-17-3, 7-15-3 Big Ten) fell 5-1 to No. 3-seeded Minnesota (20-9-5, 13-7-4 Big Ten) on Friday night at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Nittany Lions kept it close, trailing 2-1 entering the second intermission. However, the Golden Gophers broke the game open in the third period to hand Penn State a game-one loss in the best-of-three series of the Big Ten Tournament.

How It Happened

Danny Dzhaniyev, Jacques Bouquot, Dylan Lugris, Carter Schade, and Jimmy Dowd Jr. got the nod as Penn State’s top line and defensive pairing against the Golden Gophers. Meanwhile, Liam Souliere started in goal.

After some back-and-forth hockey for the first seven minutes of play, Minnesota struck first. Sam Rinzel ripped a slapshot from the faceoff circle which was too quick for Souliere to get a piece of, and the Golden Gophers took a 1-0 lead at 7:21 in the first period.

Penn State appeared to have responded with a goal, but the play was quickly deemed offside. One minute later, a pass from Dzhaniyev beyond the face-off circle was finished by Bouquot on a one-timer in front of the net. Just like that, it was 1-1 at 10:46 in the period.

Bryce Brodzinski sped down the ice and fired Minnesota’s first shot in over two minutes at Souliere, who promptly saved it. The Gophers were generating decent traffic, but Penn State’s defense stepped up to the task of shutting it down.

A hooking call against Dane Dowiak put the Nittany Lions on the penalty kill with under five minutes left in the period. They only allowed two shots en route to a swift penalty kill.

There wasn’t a single shot on goal for the first 10 minutes of the second period. The drought was broken when Connor Kurth had a chance that was denied by Souliere in front of the goal.

Aiden Fink had space as he skated down the ice. He sent a pass to Matt DiMarsico, but DiMarsico slipped while attempting to shoot the puck in front of Justen Close. It was Penn State’s first shot on goal of the period, which was more than halfway over.

The tie was broken a couple of minutes later. Jaxon Nelson passed it to Jimmy Snuggerud from behind the net, who put the puck past Souliere to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead at 14:21 in the second period.

Minnesota got an insurance goal a little over two minutes into the third period. This time, Aaron Huglen scored from behind the net to give the Golden Gophers a 3-1 lead at 2:18 in the period.

However, Penn State looked poised in the following shift. The Nittany Lions had seven shots, including two close calls from Dowd and DiMarsico that were grabbed by Close in front of the net.

Still, Minnesota kept its foot on the gas pedal. First, Souliere deflected a shot from Cal Thomas. Then, Rhett Pitlick picked up the rebound and scored to give the Golden Gophers a commanding 4-1 lead with 9:57 remaining in regulation.

Penn State got a much-needed power play opportunity when Kurth was assessed a cross-checking minor, but it didn’t go according to plan. Minnesota effortlessly cleared the puck and nearly grabbed a short-handed goal en route to a penalty kill.

With three minutes left, Souliere was pulled. Pitlick hit the net again, giving Minnesota a 5-1 lead.

Takeaways

  • The Nittany Lions played a great game until the third period. All aspects of their game were nearly on point, but something changed for the worse entering the final 20 minutes. Had the intensity appeared to remain as it had been earlier in the game, going to overtime would’ve been a very realistic possibility.
  • Penn State only took two penalties tonight, the latter of which was a four-on-four. It’s a promising silver lining heading into tomorrow’s do-or-die game.
  • Penn State lost 5-1 in game one of last year’s conference quarterfinals and won the next day. It’s just something worth mentioning.

What’s Next?

Game two of the best-of-three series is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. tomorrow at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The game will be televised on FS2.

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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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