STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State learned why No. 1-ranked Minnesota is a powerhouse in college hockey Monday night as the Gophers defeated the Nittany Lions 5-2.
That said, Minnesota coach Don Lucia said he thought Penn State played “pretty well.”
Despite the loss, Penn State outshot the Gophers 38-25 and won more faceoffs by a 40-36 margin.
Nittany Lions’ coach Guy Gadowsky said the latter wasn’t expected, as did Lucia.
“What really hurt us tonight was faceoffs,” Lucia said. “They kicked our rear on faceoffs, so they were starting with the puck all the time and [we had] to chase it a little bit.”
The first period of game mirrored the first game between the two teams.
For the second consecutive night, the Golden Gophers found the net early by cashing in on their first power play.
At 2:25 of the first period, Travis Boyd received a cross-ice pass from Hudson Fasching and snapped a shot from the left circle past PSU goaltender Eamon McAdam for his sixth goal of the season.
Like Sunday night, Minnesota had a 1-0 lead and the shot total was 12-9. However, it was Penn State that outshot the Gophers.
The second period had plenty of chances for both teams, but none of them seemed to have enough to beat either of the two netminders.
It wasn’t until 17:15 of period when a Nittany Lion turnover at their own blue line allowed Ben Marshall and Justin Kloos to set up a tic-tac-toe one-timer for Sam Warning, who scored his sixth of the year.
With the goal, Warning also ended a 15-game span without a goal. The junior said he wasn’t exactly sure why the drought was happening, but he did pinpoint one part.
“I think I was just more passive,” Warning said. “I think I just wanted to make the pass more. I just need to bear down when the shot is there.”
Despite outshooting the Gophers again by an 11-10 margin in the second period, Penn State came out of the dressing room needing a spark in the third period.
It looked like it was going to come when Eric Scheid spun away from traffic in the neutral zone and backhanded a pass to a hard-charging David Goodwin. The freshman and tried to slide through the five-hole, but Adam Wilcox denied Goodwin with his stick.
Warning struck again with his seventh goal of the year when a loose puck ended up on his stick. The following backhander tickled twine top shelf at 6:06.
Just as some of the Nittany Lion faithful started headed for the exits, sophomore Kenny Brooks picked up a loose puck behind the net and banked it off Wilcox’s back and into the cage at the 10:01 mark.
However, the Gophers didn’t let the glimmer of hope last long as Nate Condon pounced on a rebound just 17 seconds later and snuck it past McAdam.
Even though the game seemed out of reach for the Lions, Curtis Loik proved otherwise as he streaked down the left wing and put a puck past Wilcox’s left shoulder at 16:30.
But it was too little, too late for Penn State as Justin Kloos added an empty-netter to his two assists with four seconds left in the game.
With the sweep, the Gophers improve to 15-2-3 heading into next week’s outdoor game at TCF Bank Stadium against Ohio State.
But Lucia said there was still one thing missing from the Pegula Ice Arena’s atmosphere that they experience on the usual road trip.
“It’s unusual for us to go on the road and not have anybody hate us,” Lucia said. “That’ll take some time.”