Penn State Men’s Hockey Squanders 3-Goal Lead, Falls To Minnesota on Senior Night

Story posted February 21, 2022 in Sports, CommRadio by Alex Rocco

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Goals, Goals and even more goals.

Penn State fell 6-4 against No. 5 Minnesota on senior night at Pegula Ice Arena.

The blue and white honored its four seniors in defenders Paul DeNaples, Clayton Phillips, Adam Pilewicz and goalie Oskar Autio.

Coach Guy Gadowsky made two changes to his lineup, with Autio in net over sophomore goalie Liam Souliere and Ben Copeland being scratched. 

In Friday’s 3-1 loss, Copeland had a costly turnover that led to a Golden Gopher goal.

When asked post-game about why Copeland didn’t play in Saturday’s contest Gadowsky said “It was a coach's decision,”

The blue and white weren’t the only team making lineup changes, as Minnesota welcomed back two of its Olympians to the lineup.

Forward Ben Meyers and defenseman Brock Faber took the ice for the first time since Jan. 29 while forward Matthew Knies was a late scratch.

The Nittany Lions got off to a fast start with freshman forward Danny Dzhaniyev scoring just two minutes in.

Penn State continued to put pressure on Minnesota goalie Justen Close and freshman forward Ryan Kirwan netted his second goal in as many games, giving his team a two-goal lead midway through the period.

Just 14 seconds later, sophomore forward Tyler Paquette sent Pegula Ice Arena into a frenzy making it 3-0.

Coming off the loss in Friday’s contest, the opening period was a great start for Gadowsky’s squad.

“We didn’t have to say a lot because the message from the guys was the same before the coaches got involved,” Gadowsky said. “We stressed and re-stressed the things we stressed before the game in the intermission.”

Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, the Golden Gophers didn’t roll over and began to claw back in the contest.

Minnesota cut into the deficit under five minutes into the second period as Mike Koster made an excellent move on Autio to slip the puck in the net.

Eight minutes later, Blake McLaughlin made it a one-goal game blasting a shot past Autio.

The blue and white answered back a little over two minutes later when sophomore forward Xander Lamppa scored his second goal of the season.

The goals wouldn’t stop coming in the second as with under three minutes left in the period Minnesota executed a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal with Grant Cruikshank making no mistake with his shot.

After leading by three goals after the first period, Penn State went into the second intermission up by just one goal.

Despite allowing three goals in the period, Kirwan said his team needed to just play their game.

“We try to stick to one game plan, just play harder than them,” Kirwan said. “We got outworked. It was a 3-0 game, but pretend it’s 0–0.”

Minnesota pulled even just 4:41 into the period when Aaron Huglen scored a power-play goal after a Dzhaniyev hooking penalty.

The Golden Gophers took their first lead of the evening just four minutes later with Jackson Lacombe scoring his second goal of the campaign.

Cruikshank netted his second goal of the game with 39 seconds remaining to seal the 6-4 victory. After the loss, the Nittany Lions fall to 14-17-1 while Minnesota improves to 21-11.

Despite Meyers and Faber returning to the lineup, Gadowsky mentioned that it didn’t affect his squad’s preparation that much.

“They’re more excellent players, there’s a lot of them in this league,” Gadowsky said. “In this league, you get that night after night. They were excellent, they played well, but it didn’t change what they did.”

Meyers finished the contest with three points leading all players, while Penn State had 11 different players record a point.

With Saturday’s contest marking senior night, it was the last time those four players will ever play at Pegula Ice Arena but the relationship between the four and their coach will live on.

“There’s a lot of good things about this job and a lot of challenges, one of them being the investments you make [in the players],” Gadowsky said. “We had alumni weekend here, to see those guys and to be able to talk to them and hear them talk about the program and their life now, it doesn’t get much better than that as a coach.”

Alex Rocco is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, emailafr5646@psu.edu