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Penn State Hockey: McAdam Guts Out 40 Save Performance As Nittany Lions Beat Minnesota 3-2

by on January 08, 2016 9:25 PM

If Penn State was ever going to prove that it was in fact a threat to win the Big Ten title, it took just three games to make that point.

A series sweep over Michigan State, hardly impossible and thanks to timely goals and solid play that feat was accomplished a few short weeks ago. Just six points in the standings out of the six possible, but still a perfect start to conference play where every game will make a difference.

On Friday night in front of yet another packed Pegula Ice Arena the story was a little different. The Nittany Lions were set to face Minnesota, a team sitting at the top the conference standings with nine points and if nothing else the respect and expectations of a high profile program.

So in order to win Penn State would need to do three things. Get solid goalkeeping, score like the Nittany Lions had all year, and put forth an effort on the defensive end that would limit unforced errors. Easy enough to say, much hard to actually do.

For the opening 20 minutes it was hardly the best hockey either team has played. The Nittany Lions rarely outshot, managed just eight attempts on net while Minnesota pulled together a 13-shot period although with limited quality chances. When the chances did come, Penn State goalie Eamon McAdam stood tall en route to what would become one of the great goaltending performances in the program's short history.

When the first period came to close neither team had scored, a 0-0 tie a fair measuring stick of how the frame had played out.

So as the second period began it was a question of which team would rise to occasion, in the very least find a crisper game in the locker room. For the second 20 minutes, Penn State was that team.

Zach Saar pounded home a loose puck in the crease just 2:14 into the period that opened up the scoring and the noise inside a roaring arena. Just four minutes later Andrew Sturtz was sprung loose through the neutral zone and deked past Minnesota goaltender Eric Schierhorn to make it a 2-0 margin nearly midway through regulation.

Big Ten games are never easy though and as McAdam found himself injured in the crease and Penn State facing a 5-on-3 penalty kill midway through the period he stood tall with a six save performance despite clearly hurting. It was an effort that received a standing ovation from the crowd as the penalty expired and Penn State head Minnesota scoreless through two periods with McAdam's 31 saves coming as massive boost to the defensive efforts.

"It has to be up there," McAdam said following the game, reflecting on his best and hardest earned performances.

It took just 1:39 for Minnesota to make a game of it in the third period as a loose puck found Brent Gates' stick in close following a turnover and suddenly the 2-0 margin was just a single goal. Some nine minutes later it was Gates against, slamming home a shot that beat McAdam and silenced the crowd with 10:12 to go in regulation.

For the final 10 minutes it was tense back and forth action, neither team generating great chances but both seemingly just a shot away from stealing victory.

That shot finally came as Vince Pedrie slid towards the center of the offensive zone in overtime with just over a minute remaining in the frame and a slap shot found the back of the net.

"It felt pretty great," Pedrie said after the game with a smile.

And with it, Penn State hockey improves to 13-3-3 on the year and 3-0 in the Big Ten.

The turnaround will be quick though, a 3:00 puck drop will leave little time to bask in just one of now 13 victories on the year.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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