Penn State Completes Sweep Over Minnesota
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Honoring four influential members of the Penn State men’s hockey program before the game, Penn State got the job done to defeat Minnesota 5-2 and sweep the weekend series.
More importantly, the determined Nittany Lions (16-13-5, 8-10-5-2) have now clinched the four seed in the Big Ten and will host these Golden Gophers (19-14-2, 10-11-2-1) again next weekend in a best-of-three series in Pegula Ice Arena.
Leading the charge for Penn State tonight was left-wing freshman Alex Limoges. He finished with two goals, an assist and led the team with six shots.
The game was over when Limoges tallied his second goal 2:27 into the third period and in the early seconds of a Penn State power play. It extended the Nittany Lion lead to 4-1 and gave them a nice three-goal cushion that seemed safe to remain.
Limoges set the tone early on when Minnesota came out firing, looking for revenge for last night’s defeat. He opened the scoring 3:36 in on a broken play in the slot, putting it past Minnesota goalie Mat Robson.
“When Limo scored the first goal, it let us breathe easy,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said.
Denis Smirnov and Brandon Biro scored in the second period to extend the lead to 3-0.
Minnesota’s Mike Szmatula scored late in the second period to cut it to 3-1 and obtain some momentum heading into the final period.
Minnesota actually finished the game with more shots than Penn State, a 41-40 advantage, 11 more than their average. Penn State came down from their 61 shots Friday night but still hit their season average coming into the weekend of 40.
When Minnesota had any offensive momentum, Penn State goalie Peyton Jones stood on his head. He finished with 38 saves on 40 shots.
Before the game, seniors Trevor Hamilton, goalie Matt Erlichman, assistant captain Erik Autio and captain James Robinson were honored.
18:53 into the third, Robinson scored an empty net goal in what was thought to be the capper of senior night.
That was one-upped when backup Erlichman finished in goal for the final 1:06 of the game, his first appearance at Pegula in his career.
This was the first time in program history Penn State has swept Minnesota and won the season series against the Golden Gophers. The Nittany Lions did an effective job weathering a tough Minnesota team tonight.
“We knew that we were going to face a very different team,” Gadowsky said. “I thought we played very well as well.”
One facilitating factor in helping the Nittany Lions roll was their shot blocking, dominating in that department 25-12 and stifling the Minnesota offense.
Autio now has the most games played by a defenseman in program history. Freshman Cole Hults set the single-season record for assists by a Penn State freshman defender with assist number 16 in the second period.
The Golden Gophers will be very familiar with the Nittany Lions when they return to Happy Valley next weekend.
Penn State will be the four seed with Minnesota the five.
Start time for those games is tentatively 7:00 p.m.
Matthew Harvey is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and history. To contact him, email email@example.com.