STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Freshman Evan Barratt scored two goals, including the game-winner, to give Penn State a 6-5 win and the second consecutive sweep of the Gophers men’s hockey team Saturday night.
The go-ahead score came when Barratt collected his own rebound and snapped a backhanded goal past goalie Eric Schierhorn with 9 minutes, 35 seconds left in the third period.
“I just tried to shoot him low to see what happened, and it just kind of came to me,” Barratt said.
With the win, the Nittany Lions (18-13-5) advance to a one-game Big Ten semifinal at Notre Dame on Saturday of next weekend. Despite the loss, the Gophers (19-17-2) are all but a lock for the NCAA tournament because of their high PairWise ranking heading into the series.
“We scored five goals,” Gophers coach Don Lucia said. “That’s got to be enough to win this time of the year, but tonight it wasn’t. Now we’ll sit and wait to see if we’ll live to fight another day.”
The Gophers pulled ahead 4-3 on Scott Reedy’s goal with under five minutes to play in the second period — it was their first lead of the game. Penn State captain James Robinson tied it up at 4-all late in the second.
Reedy gave the Gophers back the lead four minutes into the third period when he caught the Nittany Lions in a line change and scored his second goal of the game. Penn State’s Brandon Biro converted a power-play goal to make it 5-5 in the eighth minute.
Reedy and Casey Mittelstadt each scored three goals this weekend. Rem Pitlick added one Saturday night, giving the Gophers’ second line all but one of Minnesota’s eight goals in the series.
“That was a line that did all the damage this weekend,” Lucia said. “We had some guys who played really well this weekend, and we had a handful of guys who struggled uncharacteristically.”
Last weekend was the first time the Nittany Lions had swept the Gophers since Penn State gained Division I status before the 2012-13 campaign.
What happened in that sweep likely carried over into this weekend. The Gophers needed only a point last weekend to clinch home-ice advantage. Instead, they traveled to Pegula Ice Arena on consecutive weekends, and came out sluggish Saturday.
It took the Nittany Lions just 16 seconds to score; Trevor Hamilton sent a slapshot from the point past Schierhorn. He started in place of Mat Robson, who lost the previous three decisions against Penn State. Liam Folkes tapped in his team’s second goal 13 minutes into the game.
With the way things went last weekend and Friday night, it was only a matter of time before Saturday’s contest got heated, too.
“To quote Denis Smirnov, ‘That was a man’s game,’ ” Nittany Lions coach Guy Gadowsky said.
Penn State’s Brett Murray was the first penalized when he was charged with a five-minute major for contact to the head and ejected late in the first.
Mittelstadt scored the Gophers’ first goal early in the second period on the ensuring power play. Two other penalties were called after the final whistle of the second and six in the third.