6 straight w/ goals for Pitlick, but Gopher hockey falls 6-3 at Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Rhett Pitlick, Jimmy Snuggerud and Bryce Brodzinski scored for the No. 7/6 Golden Gophers men’s hockey team, but dropped the series finale at No. 18 Penn State, 6-3, inside Pegula Ice Arena Saturday evening.

Minnesota (8-5-3 overall, 4-4-2 B1G) could not overcome tough bounces and deflections, suffering its first loss at the Nittany Lions (9-5-3 overall, 2-3-3 B1G) since Feb. 22, 2020, snapping a five-game road winning streak against the Big Ten Conference foe.

The teams skated back-and-forth for nearly nine minutes beginning the game before a whistle and the first stoppage at 11:13 when PSU was called for a penalty. On the power play, Snuggerud had an open net, but his stick snapped in half on the shot attempt and the man advantage was erased. For the second-straight night, the Nittany Lions opened the scoring via a redirected shot in front of goal, this time at the 11:07 mark, for a 1-0 lead and quickly made it a two-goal margin less than a minute later. The Gophers fired 10 shots and were stopped each time, trailing 2-0 after the first period.

Minnesota pressed its attack in the second frame and a Ryan Chesley shot from the top of the circle was tipped off the goalpost. Mike Koster got a bid through traffic and Pitlick nearly scored on the rebound, but another unfortunate defensive-zone bounce allowed the Nittany Lions to find their third goal of the night. The Gophers took a penalty 44 seconds later that was killed off, only to go right back to the penalty box for a five-minute major and game misconduct. PSU had a relentless man advantage that penned in Minnesota, where it was the penalty killers that stood tall and blocked four shots, while Justen Close made nine saves to shut down the power play.

After stopping the pressure, it was the Gophers that broke through, scoring a shorthanded goal with 30 seconds remaining in the period. Jimmy Clark pushed the puck up the right wing and put a perfect pass to the tape of Pitlick, who joined the rush and buried the feed, pulling the Maroon and Gold within two through two frames.

In what turned out to be a five-goal third period, it was all Minnesota opening the stanza as Koster and Snuggerud generated quality looks on target that were pushed away by the PSU netminder. A misplay at the offensive blue line handed the home side a breakaway with 9:54 remaining for a 4-1 lead. The Gophers cut the margin back to two after Snuggerud ripped home a tally at the 14:35 mark, following a PSU turnover. The Nittany Lions got the goal back immediately before Brodzinski finished off a power-play goal with 2:53 to play. Minnesota pulled its goalie for the final two minutes and the home side got one in the last second to close out the win, 6-3, splitting the weekend series.

Pitlick stretched his goal-scoring streak to six games with his eighth of the season and has 17 points over his previous 11 games thanks to his seventh multi-point effort of the year as he added a late assist … The junior scored the Gophers first shorthanded goal since Matthew Knies had one at Notre Dame Jan. 14, 2023 … Clark picked up his third assist this year and now has seven total points, recording six points in 10 Big Ten Conference outings … Snuggerud scored his ninth of the season and the sophomore has points in six of the last nine games … Brodzinski got his team-leading 10th goal and matched his career-long point streak at six games … Luke Mittelstadt assisted on the final goal, stretching his point streak to four, the longest of his career … Close ended the night making 37 saves, including 21 in the second period along, the most of any single period this season … Minnesota went 1-for-2 on the power play Saturday and has a man-advantage goal in four-straight and six of the last seven games.

Next Up: Away at Ohio State (Dec. 8-9)
The Gophers play their final games of the 2023 calendar year Dec. 8-9 when they trek to Columbus, Ohio, for a conference series against (RV) Ohio State. Both games will be televised on the Big Ten Network with streaming available on the Fox Sports app along with a free audio broadcast via the Gopher Radio Network 103.5 FM/AM-1130 KTLK.

Courtesy: University of Minnesota Sports Information