Penn State Picks Up 3-2 Win on Senior Day
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s identity has been its ability to score goals in bunches and score them quickly. Nikita Pavlychev and Kevin Wall furthered that identity, as the pair combined to score two goals in a span of 31 seconds during the third period, as the Nittany Lions (20-10-4, 12-8-4-1) pulled out a 3-2 victory over Minnesota (14-12-6, 9-7-6-4) on senior night Saturday at Pegula Ice Arena.
Throughout the first two periods, the Nittany Lions were getting all types of shots on Minnesota goaltender Jack LaFontaine, but they only found the back of the net once. That changed at the 9:00 mark of the third period when Tyler Gratton dumped a pretty pass for Nikita Pavlychev, who put in the back of the net to tie the game 2-2.
31 seconds later, Pavlychev was right in the middle of the action again, finding freshman Kevin Wall, who put in the biggest goal of his young Penn State career so far to give the Nittany Lions the lead for good.
“Our whole team played exceptionally well,” Wall said. “Being down 2-0 early and then having the mental toughness to come back and stay with our game plan to be able to come out on top was unbelievable.”
Penn State fell into that 2-0 hole on first period defensive lapses that led to goals by Sammy Walker and Jackson LaCombe. But the Nittany Lions did not panic, instead sticking to their game plan.
“We really didn’t change anything,” Wall said. “We just tried to keep up with our short shifts and not lose pucks and just tried to stick to our game.”
Penn State turned up the defensive intensity in the second period, outshooting the Golden Gophers 14-4, and the Nittany Lions found the back of the net once on an Evan Barratt deflection. They stuck to that same game plan in the third period, leading to the back-to-back goals.
“I don’t think we were playing poorly in the first period,” Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “I liked the fact that they kept doing what they were doing and didn’t panic. It was really nice to finally see those pucks go in for us.”
Minnesota threw an avalanche of shots at Penn State goaltender Peyton Jones after the Nittany Lions had taken the lead in the third period, but the senior netminder stood tall and sealed the win in his last regular season game in front of the home fans.
“[Jones] has been like that all year.” Gadowsky said. “When we need him to come up big, we know he’s going to make the big save, and he was excellent tonight.”
Penn State now concludes its regular season in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with one weekend of play remaining. The Nittany Lions will still need a little help to clinch the regular season title, but Gadowsky says his team isn’t thinking about that right now. He’s spending the night celebrating all that this senior class has accomplished.
“I’m going to remember singing the alma mater with the seniors and their families,” Gadowsky said. “That was the coolest moment of the season so far.”
Kevin McConlogue is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senior / Broadcast Journalism