Men’s hockey splits with Minnesota over THON weekend

Story posted February 23, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Jack Milewski

Penn State (16-10-4, 8-5-1 Big Ten) split their weekend home series against the Minnesota Golden Gophers (17-10-3, 8-3-3 Big Ten), keeping pace with the rest of the teams atop the crowded Big Ten Standings.

Penn State secured its first ever program victory against the Golden Gophers on Saturday in a dramatic 4-3 overtime win that was even more impressive considering the Nittany Lions had dropped the contest the previous night, 2-1.

Penn State got off to a fast start in the first game on Friday as David Goodwin started off the weekend scoring with a rip top-shelf just 12:47 into the game.

However, that was all the scoring Penn State would get, as clad in their alternate jerseys they produced a lackluster offensive attack.

Penn State’s lead lasted till early in the second period, but the game was tied on a goal from fourth liner Christian Isackson. Minnesota immediately added on to that as Justin Kloos weaved his way through the Penn State defense on a power play, and gave the Gophers the go ahead goal that would eventually turn out to be the game winner.

Despite only giving up one goal to the nation’s leading power play attack, Penn State still took too many penalties for Guy Gadowsky’s liking.

“I just felt like we weren’t committed enough to stay out of the box,” Gadowsky said. “It doesn’t take Scotty Bowman to figure out they are good on the power play. We just didn’t show up in the second period.”

The lackluster and undisciplined play led to Penn State’s defeat in the Friday contest as they fell 2-1.

Saturday saw a much better effort from the Nittany Lions as they once again got off to a fast start.

Curtis Loik started the scoring off on the power play. He worked his way around the net and threw a pass in front that Scott Conway whiffed on, sending the puck right back to Loik who buried it from the side of the net for the 1-0 lead.

Conway then jumped into the scoring action as he received a stretch pass from Dylan Richard at center ice and worked his way around the Minnesota defensemen. Conway roofed a backhand on the breakaway to give Penn State a 2-0 lead after one period.

“He was tremendous tonight on both ends,” Gadowsky said. “I think that was his best all-around game this season, he played one heck of a hockey game.”

Minnesota came out attacking in the second period as Travis Boyd capitalized on the power play for the Golden Gophers, cutting the lead to one.

Penn State answered right back in the form of Conway as he and Eric Scheid worked a pretty tic-tac-toe goal while the teams were four-on-four.

However, once again Penn State relinquished the two goal lead thanks to a Boyd power play goal.

Minnesota came out flying in the third period, but Penn State’s stout defense stood tall as P.J. Musico backed what was a tremendous effort that saw the Nittany Lions block an incredible 32 shots.

“They really came at us in the third, the blocked shots were phenomenal for us and so was P.J.,” Gadowsky said.

Even with the tremendous defensive effort, Penn State still relinquished a goal to the number six-ranked Gophers attack with just under 40 seconds to play, sending the game to overtime.

“The biggest thing that you can do is erase it from your memory and realize there are 40 seconds left and overtime to still compete,” Musico said.

Early into the overtime period, Penn State was awarded a power play as Michael Brodzinski was called for hooking.

The Nittany Lions wasted little time, as just 19 seconds into the overtime period Luke Juha struck.

The defenseman received a pass from the left side point, and walked in from the right dot. He fired a low wrist shot on net that eluded all bodies and sticks and sent Pegula Ice Arena into pandemonium.

“I was looking for sticks, kind of a shot pass and luckily it got through and went in,” Juha said.

With the win, the Nittany Lions remained tied for second in the Big Ten standings, still just two points behind leaders Michigan and Minnesota.

The hockey team is in action again next weekend as they face Ohio State on the road in Columbus for a pivotal series.

Penn State will finish its season off with series against Michigan and Minnesota, making the Ohio State series that much more important.

Jack Milewski is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jbm250@psu.edu.