Penn State Takes First of Two Games Against Minnesota
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa – Sophomore forward Alex Limoges continued to make a strong push for the Hobey Baker Award, scoring two goals on Friday night at Pegula Ice Arena to lead No.18 Penn State (15-10-2, 7-9-1) to a dominant 6-2 win over Minnesota (10-12-4, 7-7-3).
Penn State’s six goals were the most scored against Minnesota in team history and its fifth straight win against the Golden Gophers at Pegula.
Friday was another prolific offensive performance from Penn State’s top line, which combined for six points on the evening, as junior forward Liam Folkes added a goal and an assist while sophomore forward Evan Barratt also had two assists of his own.
“They just love to score. They do. And they love to score just as much in practice,” Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “I think they really enjoy playing with each other. They have a blast. That’s the best I can explain it.”
Barratt has had a breakout season of his own, putting him near the top of the Hobey Baker watch list. His 14th multi-point performance of the season broke the Penn State program record for most in a single-season, previously held by Andrew Sturtz and junior forward Denis Smirnov.
While the Limoges-Barratt-Folkes line had another big night, the Nittany Lions got an even bigger contribution from its second line, which combined for eight points in the victory. Senior forward Chase Berger and junior forward Brandon Biro each scored a goal and had two assists, and Alec Marsh also chipped in two assists.
“Brandon Biro was awesome tonight. He was the best player on the ice,” Gadowsky said. “I don’t just say that because of the beautiful plays he made. He played great defensively in the offensive zone. He was excellent in all three zones and made really good decisions in all three zones.”
Coming into Friday night’s game, the Limoges-Barratt-Folkes line had generated 33 percent of the team’s scoring, but the Marsh-Berger-Biro line put on a passing clinic several times throughout the evening that gave the Golden Gophers fits defensively. As good as the former line has been this season, Gadowsky emphasized that Penn State has been at its best when his team gets scoring throughout the whole lineup.
“I thought we did a good job of just getting pucks deep and playing in their end where we get a couple goals and that opened things up,” Berger said.
Kevin Kerr also registered two assists and in the process passed Vince Pedrie for fourth on the Penn State all-time scoring list for defensemen.
Junior goaltender Peyton Jones also played one of his better games of the season, stopping 24-of-26 Minnesota shots. This year has been an up and down year for Jones, but in his last two games the Nittany Lions’ net minder has posted a combined .936 save percentage.
“I think it’s a point of emphasis on the team, and I think that’s helped. I think there has been times where we’ve really left (Jones) out to dry and then I think there’s just times where we were okay but not good enough. He hit a stretch where pucks were going in…he’s always been a very even-keeled guy. I see him being really, really good when we’re not but he’s been the same way,” Gadowsky said.
Penn State and Minnesota will match up again in Pegula on Saturday night at 6 p.m. for game two of this two-game series.
Will Desautelle is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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