Andrew Sturtz made up for a sloppy first period of hockey by Penn State with a gorgeous deke of Minnesota goaltender Eric Schierhorn, faking left as he flew toward the net and backhand-sliding the puck into the far right corner to put the Nittany Lions up 2-0.
No. 15 Penn State went on to beat Minnesota 3-2 in overtime behind a two-goal second period and goaltender Eamon McAdam’s 40 saves, three short of a new career high. He had 31 saves by the end of the second frame alone, despite getting peppered in a 5-on-3 Minnesota power play opportunity.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky had high praise for McAdam’s performance after the game.
“That was certainly the most courageous goaltending performance,” he said. “I mean, we were down 5-on-3 for 1:45 and they were zipping the puck around making great plays, and he was unbelievable. ... I don’t think we played our smartest game, but when we weren’t very intelligent, Eamon was great.”
Minnesota native Vince Pedrie delivered the final dagger with 1:03 left in overtime to seal the win, marking the second year the Nittany Lions have beat the Gophers in overtime at Pegula Ice Arena.
“Felt pretty good,” he said, grinning after the game. “You know, got a lot of friends on that team so it was just pretty special for me.”
Five minutes into the game, neither team had maintained much possession. Minnesota warmed up McAdam a bit with its best chance in the period, a floater that the goaltender snagged out of the air. Penn State countered with a dinger off the pole from David Goodwin with about 13 minutes left in the frame.
Minnesota followed with a pole of its own and then the teams traded penalty kills — though the difference therein was the pressure the Gophers got on Penn State during the Nittany Lions’ own advantage, hassling McAdam twice on breakaways. Minnesota closed the frame with 13 shots on goal to the Nittany Lions’ eight.
Penn State began the second aggressively with back-to-back shots on goal that didn’t hit paydirt, but Zach Saar slipped one through a crease scrum for Penn State’s first goal with 17:46 left in the period.
“We didn’t play our hockey (in the first period),” said Gadowsky. “I thought we came back and played our game in the second.”
Sturtz followed with his beautiful stick-work, courtesy of some slick passing by Erik Autio and Alec Marsh on the assists.
A hooking penalty on Connor Varley and a cross-checking penalty on Kevin Kerr were called within 15 seconds of each other to give Minnesota a 5-on-3 advantage. McAdam was drilled 11 times and appeared to overextend his groin midway through the power play, but stuck it out and earned a loud standing ovation from the crowd.
“It’s all kind of a blur right now,” he said. “I was in the zone for a pretty long time. I was just battling to find the puck and see through screens, and the guys were blocking shots, kind of doing everything you could ask for in a 5-on-3, against a great offense.”
The goalie said he thought this game was “up there” in terms of his favorite performances — but the win helped with that.
McAdam’s shutout try was spoiled, however, as Brent Gates wound through Penn State’s defense and found the back of the net with 18:21 left to play.
Gates found the net again halfway through the final period, capitalizing on a loose puck to tie up the game.
Penn State (13-3-3) remains undefeated in the Big Ten (3-0-0) . The team hosts Minnesota at 3 p.m. Saturday.