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Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Fall 3-2, But Look Improved Against Gophers

by on November 20, 2020 6:23 PM

When it's all said and done, Penn State's 3-2 loss to Minnesota on Friday night starts the Nittany Lions' season off at 0-2.

Much like Thursday night, for the most part the Gophers were the better team, and by in large the sweep was indicative of how things *should* have gone had we all resorted to using some large computer to simulate the games this season.

There's nothing overly good about this fact if you're Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky for a whole bunch of obvious reasons.

Nevertheless, as Penn State headed to the locker room as the horn sounded for the final time, there was reason for optimism.

Of course that's once you forget about the losing. Penn State trailed 2-1 after the first period, giving up a goal in the final two seconds of the frame. Then it was 3-1 after two periods. The Nittany Lions would make it 3-2 on a goal by Kevin Wall, who has now scored in three-straight games dating back to last season. Freshman Christian Sarlo added the only other Penn State tally, the first of his career.

Despite two power plays fairly late in regulation, Penn State couldn't find an equalizer [0-for-3 on the power play while giving up two power play goals] and the rest was history. Goaltender Liam Souliere was solid in his debut for the Nittany Lions but not outstanding, then again neither were his teammates.

That aside if you consider Penn State's 2020 season something of a rebuilding year, or in the very least a season where the Nittany Lions will not come out of the gates pre-assembled for instant success, there were good signs.

At the face off circle Penn State went from getting dominated on Thursday night to basically matching the Gophers 30-32 at the dot. Where Penn State had been largely confined to its own defensive zone, the Nittany Lions took the offense to their hosts, managing 36 shots on goal to Minnesota's 27.

Defensively the Nittany Lions only allowed 14 shots on goal through two periods with a tight defensive game that only lapsed on a few occasions. Of course, a veteran Gopher squad did not need many invitations to score when given the chances.

Boiled down, Penn State lost, but the Nittany Lions looked better. And in the long run that will mean more to the overall development of this team than whether or not they actually won a game during a season that may or may not finish during a year nobody wants to remember in the first place.

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