STATE COLLEGE, PA. – Penn State finished with an emotional victory and three points that the Gophers had in reach and would like to have back.
The Gophers came close to digging themselves out of a two-goal, first-period deficit Saturday. With an extra attacker on the ice, senior Sam Warning tied the score with 39.6 seconds left in regulation.
Nittany Lions junior defenseman Luke Juha, not originally in the lineup Saturday, scored the winner 2:13 into overtime for a 4-3 victory at Pegula Arena.
“It definitely doesn’t feel good,” Warning said after the game, which stopped a seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1) for Minnesota. “I think we worked the last two periods to get back in the game.”
Travis Boyd scored twice to extend his team goal-scoring lead to 15 but PSU freshman Scott Conway matched his two goals.
Minnesota fell behind early once again. Curtis Loik and Conway gave the Nittany Lions a 2-0 lead in the first 12 minutes.
Boyd kept the Gophers alive, scoring twice ton the power play with the help of Mike Reilly. He was left all alone on the first and then scored off a one-time pass 37 seconds after Conway’s second goal made it a 3-1 game.
“After last night’s game my unit didn’t get many shots on the power play, so I wanted to put some pucks on the net and test their goalie,” Boyd said. “Lucky enough to put them in tonight.”
The Gophers had several chances in the third period to tie, including Warning hitting the crossbar. Penn State goaltender PJ Musico made 32 saves before Warning put a Hudson Fasching pass into the back of the net.
As good as he felt quieting the crowd, the 6,158 fans in Pegula were at their loudest minutes later.
Gophers defenseman Michael Brodzinski was called for elbowing 1:54 into overtime. With Kyle Rau killing the penalty without a stick, Juha needed all of 19 seconds to sneak a low shot through traffic for his second goal this season.
“You’re just disappointed in the overtime. Don’t put ourselves in that position to take a penalty like we did,” Gophers coach Don Lucia said.
Adam Wilcox made 31 saves for Minnesota, giving up more than two goals for the first time in six games.
It’s the first time Penn State has ever defeated Minnesota in six meetings, and the loss denied Lucia a chance to tie Doug Woog for the most coaching wins in Gophers hockey history.
The Gophers also lost a chance to get three points in an ever-tightening Big Ten race. The Nittany Lions, who close the regular season at Mariucci Arena, move within two points of Minnesota with six games left.
Michigan has a chance to tie the Gophers with a win against Ohio State on Sunday.
“We had a chance to get points and a chance to win a game and you know we didn’t,” Boyd said. “That’s been happening too much this year.”