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Penn State Men’s Hockey Drops Contest To Minnesota 3-2, Falls Out Of Big Ten Tournament

Penn State men’s hockey (15-17-3, 7-14-3 Big Ten) lost to Minnesota (21-9-5, 13-7-4 Big Ten) 3-2, ending the Nittany Lions’ Big Ten Tournament.

Minnesota jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first period before Penn State stormed back to tie it up in the second. Penn State controlled the third period and had a goal disallowed before Minnesota struck on a breakaway with less than a minute left in the game.

How It Happened

Head coach Guy Gadowsky started the game with Danny Dzhaniyev, Jacques Bouquot, and Dylan Lugris as the forwards with Carter Schade and Jimmy Dowd Jr. on defense and Liam Souliere between the pipes.

Souliere was tested early when Brody Lamb took a shot in close but was denied by the outstretched leg of the Nittany Lion netminder. The Golden Gophers grabbed the puck again and Jaxon Nelson fired a shot from right inside the blue line and put Minnesota up 1-0 under two minutes into the game.

Minnesota continued to dominate time of possession through the first five minutes with the best chance for Penn State coming from the stick of Ryan Kirwan, but Justen Close made the save.

Jimmy Snuggerud put a hard hit on Alex Servagno against the boards that was ruled a five-minute major and game misconduct for the Minnesota forward.

Penn State’s power play took to the ice and sustained pressure on Close through the first minute of the major penalty. Minnesota finally cleared the puck and the Nittany Lions regrouped for another barrage at the net that Close was able to fight off.

Penn State continued to put pressure on the net until Aiden Fink was run into the boards and Ryan Chesley was assessed a two-minute minor for cross-checking to give the Nittany Lions a minute and 36 seconds of five-on-three action.

Before play resumed on the power play, Minnesota challenged a hit from Xander Lamppa on Carl Fish that was unsuccessful. After an animated discussion from Bob Motzko, play resumed.

Jimmy Dowd Jr. generated the best chance on the power play, but Close continued to deny every attempt. With 12 seconds left on the two-man advantage, Nelson was called for cross-checking and Penn State had its five-on-three extended. The offense still couldn’t convert on the heels of stellar goaltending from the Golden Gophers.

With six seconds left on the Minnesota penalties, Lamppa was sent to the box for interference and, after killing 19 minutes of penalties, Minnesota went on a power play of its own.

Souliere held strong through the first minute of the power play until Dane Dowiak was called for a cross-check and Minnesota found itself with a two-man advantage. Minnesota put the puck on net four times but was stopped by Souliere and Minnesota went back to a normal power play. The Nittany Lions couldn’t finish the kill, and Nelson struck for the second time to make it 2-0.

After some back-and-forth action, Matt DiMarsico was called for interference and Minnesota went back to the power play. The Golden Gophers kept the pressure in the offensive zone, but Souliere stopped all five shots that came his way, and Penn State returned to full strength.

The Nittany Lions managed two more shots before the end of the period but couldn’t find paydirt as they went to the locker room down 2-0.

Penn State had a brief flurry of offense to start the second period but still couldn’t get past the glove of Close. Souliere made two quick saves to begin the period, but Minnesota continued to win faceoffs and keep the puck in its own zone.

Kirwan almost broke through with under five minutes gone in the second frame for the first real chance of the period for the blue and white.

Dzhaniyev grabbed the puck in the offensive zone and found Bouquot who threw a shot at the blocker of Close. The puck rebounded into the slot, and Dowd slammed it home to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Four minutes later, Fink and DiMarsico found themselves on an odd-man rush. Fink passed to DiMarsico in the slot, and the forward tied the game up at 2-2. The momentum slowly came to a halt after Lamppa was sent back to the box for elbowing. The penalty kill held strong, and Penn State returned to full strength after giving up just two shots on the man advantage.

Penn State finished out the period with a residency in the offensive zone but nothing found the back of the net as the teams skated to the third period tied at 2-2.

The Nittany Lions carried the momentum from the late flurry into the third period and fired off a few quick shots to start the frame. Penn State’s lead in shots grew but yielded no goals near the five-minute mark in the period.

Fink once again found himself near the crease, but Close denied him in front and play rolled on. The Penn State onslaught continued but Close remained strong in net.

The next chance came with under 10 minutes in the period when multiple Nittany Lions crashed the net. When the tumbling bodies were sorted out, Close had the puck in his net and the game moved into the last media timeout.

With just over six minutes left in the period, Close made a near-impossible save with his pad. After a review to make sure the puck didn’t pass the goalline, play resumed. Penn State still had possession in the offensive zone when Dzhaniyev grabbed his own rebound and put the puck in the back of the net. Minnesota challenged for an offsides and was successful and the goal came off the board.

Minnesota finally had an offensive possession of its own but was largely on its heels throughout the third period. With just over a minute left in the game, Minnesota crashed the net and a rebound found Aaron Huglen’s stick and beat Souliere to make it 3-2.

Gadowsky called a timeout before resuming the final minute of play. Souliere headed to the bench with 38 seconds left in the game and Penn State kept the puck in the zone before a Minnesota clear stopped play with 18 seconds left.

Takeaways

  • Penn State’s power play was never a strong suit this season and continued to struggle as the unit couldn’t convert on three attempts during the matchup on Saturday that included two five-on-threes and a five-minute major.
  • The Nittany Lions consistently put pucks on net but couldn’t get past Golden Gopher netminder Justen Close until the middle of the second period. Penn State ended with 48 shots while Minnesota registered 24.
  • The third period was critical as Penn State tied it up after the second frame. The Nittany Lions kept momentum from the second but ultimately couldn’t finish after a disallowed goal and a last-second save from Close.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions are unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament but will officially know their fate when the bracket is released on Sunday, March 24.

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About the Author

CJ Doebler

CJ is a junior double majoring in broadcast journalism and finance. He is from Northumberland, Pa, just east of State College. CJ is an avid Pittsburgh sports fan, but chooses to ignore the Pirates' existence. For the occasional random retweet and/or bad take, follow @CDoebler on Twitter. All complaints can be sent to [email protected].

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