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Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Get Crucial Points with 3-3 Overtime Tie Against Minnesota

by on February 22, 2020 1:00 AM

Five years ago to the day Luke Juha cranked up a shot from the right circle and fired home a puck that gave Penn State it's first win ever over a Minnesota hockey program that ranks among the most historic in the sport's history.

It was another first, another thing that the Nittany Lions had never done before, another box checked on a list of small steps towards becoming a program like Minnesota.

All these years later the Gophers still hold the national titles and decades of postseason success over the Nittany Lions' heads, but the tables on the ice have turned. Penn State had won six-straight games against Minnesota at Pegula Ice Arena heading into Friday night's meeting, it had scored at least five goals in all of those games. It had taken years of losing and turned it into as a competitive hockey as anyone has played over the last 60 months since Juha found the back of the net.

Of course what you've done only goes as far as what you're about to do, and on Friday evening both teams met, tied atop the Big Ten standings looking to jockey for position in that same standing with a week left in the regular season.

Penn State found the back of the net first, a beautiful pass from Brandon Biro springing Aarne Talvitie all alone in front of goal, slick wrists doing the rest, putting the Nittany Lions head 1-0. Penn State shelled the Gophers in the offensive zone, getting 20 shots on goal while allowing just five.

All the same it was 1-0 after 20 minutes.

They often say that a hockey team is only a shot away, and despite few chances along the way, it did in fact only take one shot for the Gophers to tie the game midway through the second period. Suddenly all that domination by Penn State didn't mean that much, it was a nice effort, maybe the best 30 minutes they had played in a long time. But 1-1 is 1-1.

It only lasted that way for a few minutes, Nate Sucese slotting home a beautiful no-look pass from behind the net by a lurking Brandon Biro to give Penn State that all-important lead once again. Biro finished the night with perhaps his best effort as a Nittany Lion, a captain's contribution to a game Penn State had to have.

Then again, Minnesota found itself in the same situation, and a goal by Ben Meyers just minutes later to suck all the energy out of a Pegula Ice Arena crowd, a crowd that was longing to see a win for a team that has found those hard to come by in the last few weeks.

That wasn't a concern of Bryce Brodzinski though, giving Minnesota a 3-2 lead with just over eight minutes to play.

It looked like it was happening again, another late lead turned into a third period deficit, another 'almost' on a growing list of regrets.

But much like how Minnesota didn't care about Penn State's hopes, Biro felt the same way about the Gophers’, slamming home a shot to tie the back-and-forth tilt late in the third.

To overtime we all went, and then the three-on-three.

In desperate need of points Alex Limoges found that final answer five years later, a puck trickling in, an extra point along with it.

Penn State's Big Ten title hopes still alive, a point separating the Nittany Lions from the rest of the pack. They need a win on Saturday, the rest a more convoluted series of events that are not out of the realm of possibility the following weekend.

But for now they will rest, because there's a game in 18 hours.



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