Penn State rang in the new year with its first game in 2014 against the nationally ranked No. 1 Minnesota Golden Gophers Sunday night in Pegula Ice Area. Eamon McAdam started in net for the Nittany Lions in the close 3-2 loss as Taylor Holstrom and David Glen tallied goals for the team, but were not able to complete the upset.
The Nittany Lions had the first two shots of the game but the Golden Gophers got the early 1-0 lead at 2:37 into the opening period. The defense stepped up on an early wraparound attempt that bailed out starting freshman goaltender McAdam but was unable to pick up Gopher Brady Skjei as the puck rebounded to the Minnesota defenseman at the blue line. He fired a quick shot at the top of the left circle past McAdam for the Minnesota lead. Penn State hung with the Gophers in the period, putting sticks in the lanes of passes and getting chances of its own on Gopher goaltender Adam Wilcox, including a 2-on-1 break that Kenny Brooks could not stuff home. With 8:08 to play in the period, David Thompson was called for tripping and Penn State went to the penalty kill, which turned into a 5-on-3 for Minnesota for 33 seconds after Mike Williamson sat for slashing at 13:20 in the first. The Nittany Lions successfully killed both penalties and then went on a power play of their own with 1:17 left in the period after Gopher Hudson Fasching went to the box for interference.
McAdam kept the Nittany Lions in the game in the second period, as the team spent a large time in their defensive zone through the first half of the middle frame. The Penn State goaltender made multiple glove saves, including a wonderful stretch pad save on a Minnesota breakaway just over the halfway point in the period. Mark Yanis took a tripping minor 11:04 into the frame that put the Gophers on a power play and Minnesota notched its second goal of the night after Mike Reilly blasted a shot from the right point past McAdam to go up 2-0. Penn State responded quickly, spending increasing time in the Gopher zone, and finally put one past Wilcox with Taylor Holstrom notching his second goal this season as he beat the Minnesota netminder on a redirection of a David Goodwin shot to cut the Gopher’s lead to 2-1.
Eamon McAdam came up big early in the third period, stopping Minnesota chances from both sides of the ice. Pegula came alive 3:45 into the frame after Nate Jensen took a wrist shot from the left circle that David Glen made a nice redirection with his stick past Wilcox for the 2-2 tie. The goal was Glen’s second of the year. McAdam continued to make stellar saves, flashing the pads on some quality Gopher chances and stoning Minnesota on a 2-on-1 breakaway late in the game. However, with 4:01 left, Minnesota’s Ben Marshall skated in from the blue line and fired a hard shot from the top of the right circle that hit off the post and into the net past a screened McAdam for the 3-2 lead. Yanis took his second penalty of the game with 3:30 left for roughing. After killing that penalty off, Penn State could not convert when McAdam was pulled for an extra skater with a minute left to play.
The Golden Gophers outshot the Nittany Lions 45-30, though Penn State’s defense and the goaltending of McAdam were outstanding.
“There weren’t really jitters”, McAdam said on his mental state after letting in a goal within the first three minutes of the game, “It was easy to bounce back.”
Bounce back he did as the Nittany Lion backstopper saved 42 Gopher shots on the night to earn him the second star of the game. Penn State’s penalty kill went one for six on the night and despite letting in one goal, were another high point for the team.
The teams meet again Monday night for Pegula Ice Arena’s first White Out of the season at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network, the team’s second television appearance on the network this season.