It was a big weekend on the ice for our No. 18 Nittany Lions (16-13-5, 9-10-5), who for the first time ever swept No. 8 Minnesota.
On Friday, in front of a crowd of 6,100, Penn State took down the Golden Gophers at Pegula Ice Arena.
Senior James Robinson (Cochrane, Alb.) got the momentum going eight minutes into the first period after a redirected shot from teammate Kris Myllari (Kanata, Ont.). Minutes later, Minnesota scored its lone goal of the game to close out the first period with a 1-1 tie.
Trevor Hamilton (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.) pushed Penn State into the lead after a series of well-strung passes by Alec Marsh (Bridgewater, N.J.) and Nikita Pavlychev (Yaroslavl, Russia) finally reached Hamilton.
The third period was where the Blue and White really let loose on the Gophers.
Sophomore Liam Folkes (Scarborough, Ont.) bested Minnesota’s defenders and found the twine just six minutes into the third. Then, freshman Evan Barratt (Bristol, Pa.) fed off of Folkes’ goal and secured one of Barratt’s own thanks to a perfect pass from classmate James Gobetz (St. James, N.Y.).
The freshmen were on fire, and first-year Alex Limoges (Winchester, Va.) rounded out the scoring with a 17-minute goal that was lifted just over the Minnesota keeper’s shoulder and into the net for a 5-1 Penn State victory.
Sophomore keeper Peyton Jones (Langhorne, Pa.) played the full 60 minutes and recorded 14 saves. The Lions kept Minnesota’s goalie busy with 61 shots total.
The Lions weren’t done with the Gophers yet, and the next night once again put the visitors away with a similar 5-2 win.
Limoges and Smirnov gave Penn State a promising start as the two each scored a goal in the first period for a 2-0 lead.
Just before intermission, Minnesota found its way behind Jones and logged one of their just two goals that evening.
Limoges kept his stellar streak going, redirecting a Denis Smirnov (Moscow, Russia) shot to help the puck slip over the Gophers’ keeper’s shoulder for a 4-1 Blue and White lead.
Minnesota found the back of the net once more right before the 15-minute mark, but Robinson came up strong with about a minute to go in the third on an empty net opportunity to lock in the 5-2 series sweep of Minnesota.
Jones recorded 38 saves for the Lions, and senior goalie Matt Erlichman (Bedford, Pa.) had one save for Penn State. The Lions pounded the Gophers with 40 shots.
Penn State will face Minnesota again next Friday in the opening games of the Big Ten Tournament. Penn State is seeded No. 4 and Minnesota, No. 5.