State College, Pa. – Freshman Rem Pitlick of the Gophers might never want to leave the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
One night after his first career hat trick, Pitlick scored with 1:33 left in overtime to give Minnesota an improbable 4-3 comeback victory over Penn State at sold-out Pegula Ice Arena.
"We just don't quit," Pitlick said. "The game's not over until the last buzzer sounds, and that's the mentality we have. We really brought it at the end, and it was nice to see us get rewarded."
The No. 5-ranked Gophers (20-8-2, 11-3 Big Ten) trailed by a goal twice in the last 2½ minutes and rallied for the tying goal each time.
Here's the roller-coaster sequence:
• With 2:11 left, Tyler Sheehy of the Gophers tied the score 2-all on a shot from 20 feet out in the slot.
• At 18:34, Russian Denis Smirnov, the leading Division I freshman scorer with 39 points, was awarded a penalty shot for PSU when defenseman Ryan Lindgren hauled him down on a breakaway. After a bit of fancy stickwork, he put a backhander through Eric Schierhorn's legs as the Nittany Lions went ahead again.
• At 19:56, with Schierhorn off the ice, captain Justin Kloos tied it at 3-3. Gophers coach Don Lucia had drawn up a play on his greaseboard, just before a faceoff in the PSU end with less than 10 seconds left. His team had to win the draw, and did. Taylor Cammarata got the lone assist.
The Gophers had a power play early in the extra period that was killed off. But later defenseman Jack Bischoff got the puck to Pitlick, a Plymouth native who played for Shattuck-St. Mary's most recently, and he scored on the Gophers' second shot in OT.
"It was a crazy game with a finish like that," Gophers coach Don Lucia said. "I give our guys a lot of credit to keep believing."
Before the late craziness, this game seemed to be going Penn State's way.
The No. 9 Nittany Lions (18-8-2, 7-6-1) took a 1-0 lead when Smirnov scored at 3:17 of the first.
The Nittany Lions had a huge chance to score a few more goals later in the first. Freshman Jared Marooney, playing because Mike Szmatula was scratched for a minor injury, got a 5-minute major and a game misconduct at 9:41.
PSU, which led Division I with an average of 46.3 shots on goal coming into this series, had ZERO shots on goal with an extra man this time.
David Goodwin made it 2-0 PSU at 2:43 of the second. Bischoff's goal at 5:08 of the third cut the Nittany Lions' lead to 2-1.
Another Gophers hero was Schierhorn with a career-high 42 saves after making 40 saves in a 6-3 win Friday.