The Penn State men’s hockey team is just three games into the season and already picking up major victories.
The No. 11 Nittany Lions knocked off No. 7 Minnesota 3-1 Friday night in the Big Ten opener for both at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
“Good so far,” coach Guy Gadowsky told the media in Minneapolis after the game. “Mariucci’s an incredible, tough place to play, especially when you have to play such a great program and such a great team.”
It gives Penn State its fifth win ever against the Golden Gophers and just the second in Minneapolis in nine tries.
Denis Smirnov had a goal and an assist and Andrew Sturtz and Nikita Pavlychev also scored.
Player of the Game
Goalie Peyton Jones turned away all but one of the 21 shots he faced, surrendering only a third-period goal by Ryan Norman. Among his ltender’s highlights was a diving stick save late in the second period to stuff a 2-on-none Gopher opportunity.
“Peyton Jones was just phenomenal,” Gadowsky said. “I’ve seen saves like that on SportsCenter, and (end of) year highlight things. I’ve never seen one live. That was pretty incredible.”
Minding the Nets
The contest featured a pair of goalies on the watch list for the Mike Richter Award for the nation’s top goaltender. With Jones getting the best of two-time Big Ten Goalie of the Year Eric Schierhorn. The Gopher junior made 23 saves and tied the school record with his 78th straight games.
Sturtz netted the first tally, forcing a turnover to create a breakaway in the opening period for his 41st career tally. Smirnov converted a feed from Erik Autio in the second period, and just as the first penalty of a 5-on-3 advantage expired, Pavlychev netted the third score with a tip-in from freshman Cole Hults.
Penn State at Minnesota, 4 p.m. Sunday: The teams complete the series with a rare day off during the weekend because of a Minnesota home football game Saturday.