Penn State Defeats Minnesota 4-3 in Double Overtime Classic

Story posted February 22, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Matt Noah

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — With a spot for first place in the Big Ten on the line, No. 11 Penn State needed double overtime to beat No. 18 Minnesota 4-3 at Pegula Ice Arena on Friday night.

Before the game, both teams were tied for first in the Big Ten standings with 36 points each, meaning the victor would temporarily take sole possession of first place in the conference standings. History was on Penn State’s side, as the Nittany Lions had already swept the Gophers in Minneapolis back in November by scores of 8-2 and 6-3. The Nittany Lions had also won six straight home matchups against Minnesota.

But the Gophers weren’t going down without a fight. Since the start of 2020, Minnesota had caught fire, losing just twice in the previous 12 games with a combined record of 9-2-1.

Last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year Sammy Walker entered the night with a team-leading 27 points, and teammate Scott Reedy led all Gophers skaters with 15 goals. Heading into Friday night, Walker was riding a six-game point-streak, while Reedy had scored five goals in his last five games.

The game opened with Penn State controlling the tempo as the aggressive team. Freshman Connor McMenamin and senior Brandon Biro had close calls by the net, but both were saved by Minnesota goalie Jack LaFontaine.

Penn State continued to beat Minnesota with its tempo, outshooting Minnesota 12-1 in the first 10 minutes of the first period. But LaFontaine held steady, keeping the game scoreless through the first 15 minutes.

However, Penn State’s rapid tempo and control of the puck eventually led to results, as the first goal of the game came with 5:31 remaining in the first period. Sophomore Aarne Talvitie crossed from right to left, deking past LaFontaine and flipping it into the back of the net on a wrist shot, assisted by Biro and senior Nate Sucese.

Despite this, Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky thought his team’s performance in the first quarter should have garnered more goals.

“After the first period, I thought we played well,” Gadowsky said. “But at the same time, I was disappointed with the score because we deserved more.”

With 9:49 on the clock in the second period, the Gophers turned the tide on Penn State by flipping a failed Nittany Lions attack into their first goal of the game. Sophomore Sampo Ranta connected with senior Tyler Nanne on the counterattack to tie the game at 1-1.

The Nittany Lions started the third period with an outlandish 38-13 shot advantage, but the score remained tied, until Sucese found the net on a behind-the-legs assist from Biro with 12:57 left on the clock.

Just 22 seconds later, a shot on goal by Alex Limoges that appeared to have crossed the line was waved off after review. This switched the momentum back onto the side of the Gophers, keeping the game within striking distance.

Two minutes later, the Gophers answered. Freshman Ben Meyers put in an unassisted goal to knot the game at 2-2.

But Minnesota was not done yet, as the Golden Gophers scored their second straight goal to take a 3-2 lead off the stick of freshman Bryce Brodzinski.

Penn State responded before the final whistle, as Biro combined with Sucese and Paul DeNaples to tie the game yet again with four minutes left.

“Brandon had to come up with a goal late to tie it,” Gadowsky said. “He’s the one guy that has been a staple on our team.”

As the clock ran out in regulation, neither team could find the net again. Overtime was needed to determine a winner.

After the five minutes of five-on-five overtime ended with no score, the game entered three-on-three overtime. It seemed like the game was destined for a shootout with no score through the period’s first four-and-a-half minutes, but with 30 seconds left, it was the trio of Limoges, junior Evan Barratt and junior Cole Hults that put the game away. They powered the puck into the offensive zone, and a shot by Hults ricocheted off LaFontaine right into the path of Limoges, who put back the game-winner.

“There are a lot of good goalies in the Big Ten, and [Lafontaine] was a stud tonight,” Limoges said. “I kicked [the puck], someone got a stick on it, and it went in.”

With the win, Penn State takes a one-point advantage over Minnesota to take sole possession of first place in the Big Ten standings. If a number of things go the Nittany Lions’ way, they can wrap up the regular season Big Ten title by the end of next week.

Saturday will be the final regular-season game for Penn State and the final regular-season home game for 10 seniors. The Nittany Lions will have the final weekend of the regular season off heading into the Big Ten tournament, which begins March 6-8.

 

Matt Noah is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email matthewnoah29@gmail.com.