In their first trip ever to Penn State, the Golden Gophers men’s hockey team walked away with a four-point sweep of the Nittany Lions in Big Ten conference action. The unorthodox Sunday/Monday series didn’t phase Minnesota, as they were able to put away the newest members to Division-I hockey.
Penn State was able to give Minnesota a bit of a shakeup in the series opener on Sunday. Tied 2-2 with under five minutes left in the third period, the Gophers Ben Marshall was able to snap a quick shot past Penn State goalie Eamon McAdam for the game-winner.
Defensemen accounted for all three goals for Minnesota in the win, with Mike Reilly and Brady Skjei also scoring on the evening.
It was a close win for the Maroon and Gold at the brand new Pegula Ice Arena. Opened at the beginning of the season, an over-capacity crowd of 5,999 just missed out on seeing the school’s first Big Ten win.
In-between the games, Minnesota (15-2-3, 5-0-1 Big Ten) stayed on top of the national polls for the eleventh-straight week. The Gophers earned 48 of 50 first place votes in the USCHO.com polls.
After a close win on Friday, Minnesota was able to show a little bit of dominance over the now 4-12-1 Nittany Lions. Gophers forward Sam Warning recorded two goals and an assist in the team’s 5-2 win in the series finale on Monday.
On top of Sam Warning’s three-point game, linemate Justin Kloos also went deep from three as he ended up with a goal and two assists. Both assists were to set-up Warning as the pair were hot to finish off Penn State.
Adam Wilcox was stellar once again for Minnesota, stopping 64 of 68 shots on the weekend — good for a .941 save percentage. His numbers continue to improve weekly for Minnesota as the netminder is slowly climbing into the Top 20 in both goals against and save percentage nationally.
Minnesota head coach Don Lucia should be pretty happy as Minnesota has scored power play goals in six-straight games and has not allowed a power play goal in the last four.
Special teams play has been brought into question as the No. 1 team in the country has been towards the bottom of the pack in both categories. With their recent success, Minnesota may just have everything heading in the right direction as the heart of the conference season gets underway.
Minnesota will have a short week as they return to play on Friday against Ohio State. The weekend series against the Buckeyes will get as much publicity as any series all year as the Friday opener will be played outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium.
The Hockey City Classic will bring over 50,000 fans outdoors to Dinkytown to watch college hockey. It’ll be the first outdoor college hockey game at Minnesota in over 80 years.