State College, Pa. – Penn State kept firing pucks at Gophers goalie Mat Robson and the dam finally broke in the third period.
Liam Folkes' goal at 6 minutes, 27 seconds of the final period — on the Nittany Lions' 50th shot on goal — gave Penn State a two-goal lead and they scored twice more to beat the No. 8 Gophers 5-1 on Friday night in Big Ten men's hockey.
"They won every loose race to a puck," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "They won every physical confrontation battle. Other than our goaltender, I don't think we had much pushback at all tonight."
Until then Robson, a sophomore from Mississauga, Ontario, had kept the game competitive. At least on the scoreboard. He stopped 20 shots in the first period, 25 in the second and 10 more in the third for a career-high 55 saves before being replaced by Eric Schierhorn after Penn State's fourth goal.
Schierhorn had one save on two shots in his 8½ minutes.
The program record for saves in regulation is 61, set by Don Vaia in 1957. Robson's previous high was 38 — a number he passed midway through the second period.
Freshman Casey Mittelstadt had the goal for Minnesota, which was outshot 61-15. He scored in the middle of the first period, about four minutes after James Robinson had put the home team ahead.
Evan Barrett and Alex Limoges had Penn State's final two goals in the last nine minutes of the third.
With the loss, the Gophers' grip on fourth place — the last team with home ice in the conference quarterfinals — shrunk to just two points over Penn State.
The Gophers (19-14-2, 10-11-2-1 Big Ten) have 33 points in the conference race. Penn State (15-13-5, 8-10-5-2) has 31.
If the No. 18 Nittany Lions win Saturday's rematch for three points, they would jump over Minnesota and the Gophers would have to return to State College next weekend for a best-of-three Big Ten quarterfinal series.
That series would be at 3M Arena at Mariucci if Minnesota wins or even gets a tie.