The Gophers men’s hockey team surrendered one top scoring chance after another right after the puck dropped Friday night.
The Gophers didn’t crack after one period, but eventually Penn State proved to be too much.
The eighth-ranked Nittany Lions scored three goals in the opening 4 minutes, 51 seconds of the second period and went on to a 8-2 victory over the Gophers before an announced 8,032 at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
“We turned the puck over all night long and put ourselves in a tough spot,” Gophers coach Bob Motzko said.
Jaxon Nelson and Sampo Ranta scored for the Gophers (4-5-2, 1-2-2-2 Big Ten), who were playing in the first game of a six-game homestand, with all six games against ranked teams. They lost to Penn State (8-2, 4-1) for the 10th time in the past 12 meetings.
The Nittany Lions were the nation’s highest-scoring team a year ago. They entered Friday’s game fourth this season, then took a big step in climbing back to the top spot after outshooting the Gophers 48-27.
Jack LaFontaine stopped all 16 shots he faced in the first period, but he was pulled after Penn State scored on its first shot on goal in the third, finishing with 33 saves on 38 attempts.
Sam Sternschein scored 44 seconds into the second period to break the scoreless tie; Kevin Wall made it 2-0 only 40 seconds later with his first career goal; Alex Limoges made it a three-goal lead with a power-play goal at the 4:51 mark; and Aame Talvitie, who assisted on Sternschein’s goal, got a goal of his own at 9:28.
Nelson’s first college goal made it a 4-1 game, but after Penn State scored again on Liam Folkes’ goal 27 seconds into the third period, the Gophers pulled LaFontaine for Justen Close. But that didn’t appear to help matters any; Penn State scored three more times, with Limoges and Sternschein scoring their second goals of the night and Connor McMenamin recording a power-play goal.