The Penn State men’s hockey team had thoughts of an upset most of Saturday night at Mariucci Arena.
Time and again the Nittany Lions had chances, but could never get one more goal, and No. 2 Minnesota’s relentless pressure eventually yielded the winning score by Tom Serratore.
Despite a stellar effort from PJ Musico in the Nittany Lion net, Penn State fell 2-1 to the Golden Gophers to close the weekend on the final road series of the season.
Curtis Loik scored Penn State’s lone goal, while Musico made 35 saves in the loss in his first start of the season. The junior from Orange, Calif., had made several appearances in relief this season but had not started since a 5-0 loss to Wisconsin on Feb. 24, 2013.
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The Golden Gophers peppered Musico with plenty of shots, and the goalie turned in a number of highlight-worthy saves, and also got a little help from the frame with at least three Minnesota shots ringing off the post.
Travis Boyd netted the game’s first goal with 7:23 left in the first period, skating through and around Penn State defenders before putting a shot on Musico. The goalie made the initial pad save, but Boyd was alone for the rebound and lofted the puck over Musico for his ninth goal of the season.
Loik tied the game with 2:46 left in the second on a sparkling rush up the ice. From behind Musico’s net, Connor Varley took a few strides and sent a long pass off the boards to a breaking Loik, who raced in on Michael Shibrowski, beating the goalie with a wrist shot for his fifth score of the season.
The game was knotted until Serratore’s winner with 6:45 left. Boyd had skated into the slot and fired a shot that caromed off defenseman Patrick Koudys and bounced right to Serratore, beating Musico between his legs for his third goal of the season.
Shibrowski, starting on the Gophers’ Senior Night, made 26 saves. Minnesota outshot Penn State 37-27.
The Nittany Lions, who dropped to 4-9 in games decided by one goal this season, return to Pegula Ice Arena next weekend, hosting No. 6 Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday.