Penn State Men’s Hockey: Overtime Heroics Topple No. 17 Minnesota 4-3


Retribution was in the air for Penn State as the Nittany Lions knocked off No. 17 Minnesota 4-3 in overtime Saturday evening on a power play goal by defenseman Luke Juha.

After taking three penalties the night before, this time the Nittany Lions (16-10-4, 8-5-1 Big Ten) came out on top in the special teams battle with two power play goals to avoid being swept by the Gophers (17-10-3, 8-3-3 Big Ten) and win their first game against the program since the start of their Division I era.

More from Victory Bell Rings

Juha had the winning tally for the Nittany Lions and freshman Scott Conway had a three point night with two goals and one assist to lift Penn State over Minnesota to snap a three game losing streak.

“I thought it was a drastic difference from last night,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “I thought last night we looked like a team that was very satisfied to be close to Minnesota and I think tonight, I didn’t sense that at all.

“Boy, [Minnesota]’s good. They really came at us so hard in the third and I thought it was a great effort even then.”

Penn State looked finish the game up 3-2 heading into the final minutes of play, but Minnesota’s Sam Warning tied the game with 40 seconds left with goaltender Adam Wilcox pulled for the extra attacker. The senior capitalized on furious Gopher pressure and failed Nittany Lion clears to tap in an easy marker from the doorstep to send the game to overtime.

In the extra hockey period, Penn State extracted their revenge on the power play after Gopher Michael Brodzinski took a two minute elbowing call to put the Nittany Lions on the advantage. With a man up, Juha took the puck at the right point and shot it low with Wilcox screened in front and the goaltender never saw the game winner coming with 2:13 gone in the overtime period to cap off a wild finish in Pegula.

“Minnesota was all over us for a little while there and had a bunch of momentum then we got a power play so we knew that we had to capitalize on that to get three points,” Juha said. “Bailey got it on the far wall and passed it to me and I had tons of time and was just looking for sticks… and luckily it just got through everybody.”

The game started in an eerily similar fashion to the previous night, as Penn State capitalized on early pressure to jump out to a 1-0 lead in the first period. What began as a sloppy power play turned into an opportune chance for the Nittany Lions as Curtis Loik tallied his sixth goal of the year. On the junior’s wrap around attempt, the puck popped out to freshman Conway, whose chance was stopped by Wilcox, but Loik picked up the rebound and tossed it in glove side on the goaltender from the right post for the 1-0 strike 7:21 into the game.

However, unlike the last game, Penn State scored the next goal. Five minutes after Loik’s tally, Conway gave Penn State their first ever 2-0 lead on Minnesota with a beauty of a breakaway goal. The freshman fooled Gopher defender Ryan Collins on a passing play and went backhand, forehand, backhand on Wilcox top shelf to double the Nittany Lion lead to finish out the first period.

In another second period filled with penalties, Minnesota cut Penn State’s lead back down to one twice on Travis Boyd’s two power play goal frame. On his first 8:17 into the second, Boyd was given too much space in the slot and the senior fired a wrister that hit off the crossbar and in over Nittany Lion goaltender PJ Musico’s right shoulder for the 2-1 score.

Conway finished yet another gorgeous goal to restore Penn State’s two-score lead with 4:16 to play in the second. On a 4-on-4, the freshman stole the puck from a Gopher defender and proceeded down the ice on a 2-on-1 with Eric Scheid. The pair played give-and-go before Conway finished the play with a wrist shot from the right post for his second goal of the night.

However, Minnesota cut the Penn State lead back to one with Boyd’s second 37 seconds later for their second power play goal of the evening. With Casey Bailey in the box for interference, the forward’s shot hit both posts and went in behind goaltender Musico for the 3-2 strike to finish out the middle frame.

The senior had a 32 save performance in net in his second straight start and improved his record to 5-3-1 on the season.

The Nittany Lions were outshot 35-34 and were held to a 38.9 shooting attempts percentage through the contest, with Minnesota holding the edge in total shot attempts 88-56. Despite losing the possession game, Penn State held on with 32 total blocked shots with 14 of those coming in the third period.

Penn State also got the advantage on the power play, scoring on two of their three attempts while holding Minnesota to 2-of-4.

The Nittany Lions head to Ohio State (9-16-2, 4-9-0 Big Ten) next weekend to face the Buckeyes in their final meetings of the year. Penn State is 1-1-0 against Ohio State after a 5-4 overtime loss and a 4-1 regulation win back in January.