The Penn State Nittany Lions (6-22-2, 2-13-1-0 Big Ten) faced off against the No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers (23-4-5, 12-2-2-0 Big Ten) over the weekend, losing 5-1 Friday night and 2-1 Saturday evening. Kenny Brooks and Curtis Loik scored Penn State’s two goals of the weekend against the stingy defense and goaltending of the Golden Gophers.
Matt Skoff took the start in net Friday night against Minnesota while PJ Musico took his first turn in between the pipes for the Nittany Lions in Saturday’s game. Both goaltenders recorded losses for the weekend.
Brooks scored Penn State’s lone goal in Friday night’s 5-1 loss on the power play 3:12 into the first frame. While Gopher Justin Holl sat in the penalty box for two minutes on an interference call, Brooks picked up teammate Zach Saar’s rebound and put it past goaltender Adam Wilcox for the 1-0 lead on the man-advantage.
However, that was Penn State’s only lead of the period and it did not take long for Minnesota to tie the game on Sam Warning’s 12th goal of the season. The Gophers scored twice more in the period on Penn State goaltender Matt Skoff, once on Hudson Fasching’s goal on a scramble in front and the third on Kyle Rau’s gorgeous finish on Fasching’s cross ice pass on a 2-on-1.
Minnesota took a 3-1 lead going into the first intermission of Friday night’s game. Taylor Cammarata put the Golden Gophers up 4-1 on a power play goal of their own just 30 seconds into the second on a one-timer past Skoff and teammate Nate Condon gave Minnesota a four goal lead 12 minutes later on a shorthanded tally from the right faceoff circle for the 5-1 lead.
Both teams were held scoreless in the third period as the Golden Gophers skated to an easy four -goal victory in game one of the weekend series. Skoff saved 31 of 36 Gopher shots in Friday’s loss in net for Penn State while the Nittany Lions were held to 31 shots on goal.
Musico gained his first start in net this season in Saturday night’s game and help keep the Nittany Lions tied with the Gophers until the late stages of the third period. Minnesota scored the opening goal at 12:37 on Travis Boyd’s ninth goal of the season after he picked up his own rebound from Musico and stashed it behind the Penn State goaltender for the 1-0 lead.
The Minnesota lead carried into the first intermission, but with 2:46 to go in the middle frame, Loik tallied his fifth goal of the year to tie the game 1-1. Loik took a pass from teammate Connor Varley and took a wrist shot from the left circle that beat Gopher goaltender Michael Shibrowski glove side for the tying score.
Minnesota outshot Penn State by a 37-27 margin, with Musico stopping 25 Gopher shots in the loss for Penn State in his first start of the season.
Penn State will head home next weekend to play Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday night. Both games have a start time of 7:00 p.m. at home in Pegula Ice Arena.