Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Fall 5-2 Following Late Surge By Minnesota
Penn State almost pulled off the shocker on Sunday night and fell short again on Monday night thanks to a third period surge by Minnesota.
The Nittany Lions lost to the Gophers 5-2 in front of an energized Pegula Ice Arena.
The Gophers opened up the scoring only 2:25 into the game on a power play. Penn State was able to fight back though, registering 12 shots on net to the Gophers' 9 through the opening 20 minutes. Adam Wilcox was strong in net all night for Minnesota and made 36 saves on the evening. The early goal marked the second straight night the Nittany Lions gave up an early score.
In the second period, Penn State continued to pressure and created several fantastic scoring chances but Wilcox stood tall, turning aside 11 shots. The Gophers put another tally on the board with just under 3-minutes to go in the second period to open up a 2-0 lead.
Penn State hit the post twice on Monday night, one coming early in the third period that almost cut into the Gophers' two-goal lead. The Nittany Lions continued to charge but struggled to crack a stingy Minnesota defense. The Gophers added a third goal only 6:06 into the final frame to put Penn State in an almost impossibly deep hole. The Nittany Lions kept up the pressure though and Kenny Brooks banked in a shot off of Wilcox's back to make it a 3-1 game with 9:59 to go in regulation.
Minnesota responded quickly though, scoring only 17 seconds later to kill any hopes of a comeback. Penn State goaltender Eamon McAdam was strong in goal, making 20 saves but the Gopher attack was just too skilled to be completely stopped.
Curtis Loik went top shelf with just under four minutes to go to cut it to a two-goal game but an empty net score by Justin Kloos with 4-seconds to play ended the night for a sold-out Pegula Ice Arena.
While the Nittany Lions failed to win either of their games against the nation's top team it was a good learning experience for a young program that played perhaps its best hockey of the season when it needed it the most.
Penn State will head on the road for a two game series against Michigan State starting this Friday at 6:30 EST on the Big Ten Network. The Nittany Lions will return home for a one-game stand against Boston College in the second meeting of the season between the two teams.