Penn State Blows by Minnesota
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The No. 18 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions dominated from start to finish Friday night against the eighth-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers in their 5-1 victory.
An important takeaway was Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky earned his 100th win at the helm in Happy Valley.
“It means I’m still lucky to be here,” said Gadowsky after the game on what the milestone means for him.
The Nittany Lions (15-13, 8-10) were out hunting for records, rattling off a season-high 61 shots and just two shots shy of the program record of 63. Ironically, that record was set last season against Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament.
On the flip side, the Golden Gophers could never establish a rhythm with the puck and only had 15 shots, half of their average of 30.
MVP of the game could have been multiple candidates, but freshman right winger Sam Sternschein led the team with eight shots, an assist and was plus-four on the ice.
Nittany Lion goalie Peyton Jones, in limited shots against, made key saves and came up big on multiple Minnesota breakaway opportunities.
Against a top ten team, Penn State flew all over the ice and outraced the Golden Gophers in just about everything to keep the momentum and offensive flow away from the team up north.
“That was the most complete game we have played this year, both offensively and defensively,” Gadowsky said.
Even when leader Andrew Sturtz was ejected for a contact to the head and game misconduct penalty early in the third period, The Nittany Lions never lost a beat and kept the gas pedal floored.
Captain James Robinson capped off the scoring eight minutes into the first, but Minnesota’s Casey Mittelstadt tied it up just a few minutes later after squeaking one underneath Jones.
With Penn State up 2-1 near the halfway point of the second period, Trevor Hamilton had a key goal taken away upon review due to kicking it into the net.
The game was over when sophomore right winger Liam Folkes netted his 11th goal of the season 6:26 into the second. It pushed the Penn State cushion to two and with Jones playing well and the Nittany Lion offense rolling, it seemed difficult to see the lead evaporating.
It got worse for Minnesota. Nittany Lion freshman center Evan Barratt ripped a slapshot from the blueline that hit the top bar of the net, just over Golden Gopher goalie Mat Robson, and bounced down and in. Robson got pulled as a result for goalie Eric Schierhorn.
Sophomore and leading goal scorer Denis Smirnov had his five-game point streak against Minnesota snapped.
With the win, Penn State keeps their chances alive at earning a home best-of-three series next week at Pegula Ice Arena in the opening quarterfinal round of the newly formatted three-week Big Ten Tournament.
The series will conclude tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Senior night will commence at 6:30 honoring Hamilton, assistant captain Erik Autio, Matt Erlichman and Robinson as the four Nittany Lion seniors.
Matthew Harvey is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and history. To contact him, email email@example.com.