Penn State was swept at home in its first Big Ten weekend of the season, losing again to No. 1 ranked Minnesota, this time by a score of 5-2. Eamon McAdam got the call in net for the Nittany Lions in his second start in as many nights and Curtis Loik put up two points on the Golden Gophers but the team could not pull out the upset, despite new head football coach James Franklin making an appearance early on in the first period.
Like the previous night, Minnesota got off to a quick start on the scoreboard. Penn State went down a man on a Max Gardiner hooking penalty at 1:09 into the first period. On the power play, Golden Gopher Hudson Fasching slid a nice pass across the ice to teammate Travis Boyd in the left circle and fired a quick shot past McAdam from the faceoff dot. The Nittany Lions battled back and had a few close chances, but all were stopped by Minnesota goaltender Adam Wilcox, who had some luck on his side.
Luck swung Penn State’s way a few times as well, as Minnesota hit the pipe on a quality rush with 9:51 left in the period. Though the minutes following were quiet, the last few moments of the period picked up in intensity as the Nittany Lions fired off more good chances but Wilcox stood tall in net, blanking Penn State through the first 20 minutes.
Again, Penn State went down a man early in the period, as Casey Bailey went to the penalty box for hooking with 1:29 gone in the frame. Penn State killed the penalty and almost tallied a goal of its own on a 3-on-2 rush shorthanded that hit off the pipe. Coincidential minors were handed down when Golden Gopher Sam Warning ran into McAdam and McAdam gave the Minnesota player a few shots of his own, resulting in a 4-on-4 with Warning off for interference and Zach Saar sitting in the box for McAdam for roughing 4:52 into the period. It became a 4-on-3 power play, then a 5-on-4 power play, for the Nittany Lions after Minnesota’s Ben Marshall took a two-minute roughing penalty of his own. Nothing came of the penalty as the Gophers penalty kill remained sharp on the night. Despite Penn State dominating in the Minnesota offensive zone, the Golden Gophers broke the game open on an odd man 2-on-1 rush with Gopher Justin Kloos setting up Sam Warning on the right circle for the one timer to put Minnesota up 2-0 at the end of the second.
Jonathan Milley went to the box early in the third period for the Nittany Lions on a slashing call at 1:17. Penn State’s penalty kill went to work and almost scored a shorthanded chance again, but this time, a 2-on-1 chance from Eric Scheid to David Goodwin was stoned by Wilcox. Warning continued his dominant night as he scored his second goal of the game on a backhander that beat McAdam top shelf right side with 13:54 to go in the game to give Minnesota the 3-0 lead. Penn State finally got on the board and broke the shutout to make it 3-1 just past the halfway point in the period on a Kenny Brooks tally off a scrum in front to the left of Wilcox for the forward’s second of the year. 17 seconds later; however, Minnesota got the goal right back on Gopher Nate Condon’s shot that hit a Penn State player in front as they were diving to block the shot and was knocked in past McAdam to put the visitors in front by three again, 4-1. The team continuted to fight and with 3:30 to go, Curtis Loik turned a beautiful rush down the left side of the rink into a bad angle snipe past Wilcox from the goal line to halve Minnesota’s lead, 4-2. Penn State pulled McAdam with 33 seconds to go in the game but could not convert with the extra man as Minnesota downed the empty netter to seal the 5-2 win.
Despite the loss, the Nittany Lions outshot the Golden Gophers 38-25. Curtis Loik put up two points on the night with his third period goal and an assist on Brooks’ tally earlier in the frame. After the game, Loik said in regards to their development over the course of the weekend, “We’ve taken a few steps forward here”. Gadowsky remarked much of the same in his post-game comments. “I thought we did play better.” He said, “I thought we generated a lot more chances. I felt really good about the chances we had”.
On the decision to start McAdam, Coach Gadowsky said they, “wanted to get him back in right away” and that McAdam, “deserved to start” the second game after his performance in Friday night’s 3-2 loss. “It was nice to see him gain confidence”.
McAdam had another solid night in between the pipes despite the loss. The Penn State netminder saved 20 of 24 Gopher shots and seems to have shaken the early season jitters that cost him a few goals in his previous starts.
With the losses this weekend, Penn State drops to 4-12-1 on the season and 0-4-0-0 in the Big Ten. Next weekend, the team travels to Michigan State to play the Spartans Friday and Saturday. Both games have a 6:30 p.m. puck drop and Friday night’s matchup will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network while Saturday’s will be featured on NBCSN.