It was already a big Sunday for freshmen on the Gophers men’s hockey team through two periods vs. Penn State. And then Brannon McManus struck in the third.

The Californian scored three third-period goals as the Gophers earned a weekend split of their first Big Ten series of the season, beating the Nittany Lions 6-3 at 3M Arena at Mariucci on Sunday.

“He’s a really good player,” said Tommy Novak, who had three assists, with two coming on McManus goals. “He can bury them when he has his chances. … All of [the freshmen] are really good players.”

McManus gave the Gophers (2-2, 1-1 Big Ten) a two-goal lead 1 minute, 43 seconds into the third with his first college goal. He scored again at 8:12, then completed the hat trick at 16:09 on the power play.

Fellow freshmen Casey Mittelstadt and Sam Rossini also scored for the Gophers, with Rossini's goal his first. Brent Gates had a goal and an assist and Ryan Zuhlsdorf had two assists.

"I thought we had really good energy from the get-go," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. 

Eric Schierhorn stopped 23 shots in his 79th consecutive start in goal for the Gophers, breaking the team record he shared with John Lothrop, who started 78 in a row from 1964 to ’66.

Andrew Sturtz had a goal and an assist for the Nittany Lions (2-2, 1-1).

The Gophers, who moved this game from Saturday night to Sunday to avoid a conflict with the football game, bounced back after losing to Penn State for only the second time in nine meetings at home Friday, taking a two-goal lead in the first period on goals by Mittelstadt and Gates.

“We just felt like we had to come out and prove something,” Gates said. “That we were a better team than we showed.”

Said Lucia: "Tonight was probably the most consistent effort we've had for 60 minutes this year. I think the guys knew that we didn't play very well on Friday night."