After falling behind twice early, the Gophers men’s hockey team rallied to defeat Penn State 5-2 on Saturday night at Mariucci Arena, getting a hat trick from Leon Bristedt and sweeping a team with Big Ten title aspirations.
The Nittany Lions were ranked No. 6 in the latest USCHO.com poll — one spot ahead of the Gophers — and only two points out of first coming into this weekend.
Now conference co-leaders Gophers (17-7-2, 8-2 Big Ten) and Wisconsin, which beat Michigan State 4-3 in overtime, Saturday are eight points clear of Penn State. Minnesota has won 10 of its past 12 games.
Bristedt was a big key in keeping the Nittany Lions in a 0-4-1 slide since being ranked No. 1 for the first time in program history. That’s their longest winless streak since the 2013-14 season.
The junior from Stockholm had his first career hat trick.
“It’s always good to get one,” Bristedt said, according to USCHO.com. “That’s something that you do not necessarily strive after, but it feels good.”
His first goal came shorthanded at 14 minutes, 51 seconds of the opening period. As a Nittany Lions player retreated into his own zone for the puck, Bristedt put on a burst of speed to catch him, knocked the puck away and then made several moves to fool goalie Peyton Jones for a 1-1 tie.
Bristedt’s second goal came on a power play a 16:39 of the second period and put the Gophers ahead 4-2. Taylor Cammarata threaded a pass through the crease to Bristedt, alone by the right post, and he didn’t squander the Grade A chance.
His third goal of the game — and 11th of the season — came at 5:43 of the third period. The 5-8, 189-pound Bristedt now has 23 points, which ties him for fourth in scoring on the team.
Brent Gates and Cammarata had the other goals for the Gophers. Gates’ goal from the lower left circle on a one-timer from Mike Szmatula tied the score at 2-all at 8:25 of the second period. And 1:14 later, Cammarata got the eventual game-winner on a rebound after a shot by Jack Ramsey. It was his third goal of the season.
Penn State (16-6-2, 5-4-1) got goals from Alec Marsh in the first period and David Goodwin in the first minute of the second to take leads of 1-0 and 2-1.
Erik Schierhorn made a career-high 38 saves for the Gophers, Jones had 23 for Penn State. Schierhorn picked up his 17th win, which leads all Big Ten goalies.
Minnesota was 1-for-2 on the power play, Penn State 0-2.
The Gophers have won six consecutive games at home for a 9-2-1 record this season at Mariucci.
Penn State, which lost the first game of the series 5-1, is now 1-7 at Mariucci and has been outscored 35-13 in those games.
These teams will meet again soon. After playing at Ohio State next weekend, the Gophers play at Penn State Feb. 17-18.