Penn State Hockey continues to stun No. 1 ranked teams, beating Minnesota (4-2) Thursday night and then falling (3-1) Friday night.
This was the first time in NCAA history that a team upset two separate No. 1 ranked programs back-to-back. The Nittany Lions‘ hot streak began by taking down No. 1 ranked Michigan 3-0 last weekend.
Thursday Night – Stunning the Gophers
Penn State Hockey improved to 10-1 on the year and 4-1 in conference play, after beating the Gophers 4-2 Thursday night.
Minnesota’s loss drops them to 7-4 overall and 3-2-0 in Big Ten play.
The Nittany Lions opened the scoring off a 2-on-1 odd-man rush where Conner McMenamin slid a clean feed to Conner MacEachern for the one-timer blast.
Early in the second period, the Gophers tied the game as Bryce Brodzinski shot one past the glove of Liam Souliere. Deeper in the second period Christian Sarlo potted one assisted by graduate student, Ashton Calder.
Eventually, the Nittany Lions pushed the lead to a pair when MacEachern tallied his second of the night making it a 3-1 game.
Minnesota quickly responded but that wasn’t enough, Aaron Huglen put one in for his seventh on the year, but Calder capitalized on an empty net opportunity. Solidifying the 4-2 victory and making history yet again. This marked Liam Souliere’s first career win against Minnesota, stopping 24 of 26 shots.
Friday Night – A Battle in Minneapolis
Three unanswered goals from Minnesota washed away the hopes of a sweep for the Nittany Lions.
Dropping to 10-2 on the year and 4-2 in conference play, a series split is still a fantastic feat against another No. 1 ranked team.
The Lions started off the scoring again when Christian Sarlo potted his second on the weekend, roofing one in tight past Justen Close. Later in the second period, Mason Nevers tied the game for the Gophers with a powerplay tally, redirecting a shot past Liam Souliere. Bryce Brodzinksi helped the Gophers gain their first lead of the weekend after he sniped one home from a failed clear attempt in the Nittany Lion’s defensive zone. Only 66 seconds later, Brodzinski scored another one, eventually closing out the 3-1 victory for the Gophers.
Penn State Hockey has now scored first in 10 of its first 12 games this season, serving as the first loss in such games as the Lions fall to 9-1 when doing so.
Contributing factors to Lions’ loss include powerplay efficiency, going 0 for 3 while the Gophers went 1 for 5. Penn State will return home for a huge series against the Michigan State Spartans for a Friday/Saturday series at Pegula ice arena.
Liam stopped 54 of 59 shots this weekend, suitable for a .915 save %. He made some incredible desperation saves over the weekend and is really emerging as Lions’ star goaltender. A huge reason that Penn State can win these 4-2 tight games against top teams in the country. I believe the Ontario-born goaltender surpasses former PSU star goaltender Peyton Jones in skill level and potential.
Brodzinksi is a former seventh overall draft pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2019 NHL entry draft. He scored in both games this weekend, good for his fourth and fifth of the season. Now standing at seven points in twelve games played. This will be the senior forwards last run with the Minnesota Gophers.
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