STATE COLLEGE, PA. – The Gophers men’s hockey team continued their all-time dominance against Penn State on Friday night. But unlike a lot of their matchups, this one was closer than the final score indicated.
Rem Pitlick had a hat trick and linemate Justin Kloos scored the go-ahead, power-play goal in the third period as the Gophers won 6-3 before an announced 6,137 at Pegula Ice Arena.
The fifth-ranked Gophers (19-8-2, 10-3 Big Ten) improved to 12-3 all-time vs. No. 9 Penn State (18-7-2, 7-5-1). Minnesota has won five of their past six meetings by at least three goals, a stretch that includes 5-1 and 5-2 victories at Mariucci Arena two weeks ago.
However, the score Friday was tied 3-3 until Kloos, the Gophers captain, scored 14 minutes into the final period. Pitlick, who had a goal in every period, had one of the assists on Kloos’ goal for a four-point night.
That was the Gophers’ only power-play goal in three chances after they had six, a modern-era record, in a 6-5 victory at Ohio State last Saturday. Minnesota has scored a power-play goal in eight consecutive games and 13 of the past 14.
“We have the right combination,” Gophers coach Don Lucia said earlier in the week. “Some righties and lefties, we have good net-front guys.”
Taylor Cammarata made it 5-3 with 2:33 left to play and Pitlick got the final goal, his ninth of the season, into an empty net with 1:26 left.
Sophomore Eric Schierhorn, making his 66th consecutive start for the Gophers, made a career-high 40 saves.
“He has played good against Penn State,” Lucia said. “It’s back to [playing] a volume-shooting team.”
Ohio State wasn’t last weekend, and Lucia said Schierhorn had a hard time getting into a rhythm during a series split in Columbus.
The Nittany Lions came into this series averaging 4.27 goals and 46.3 shots per game, both first among Division I teams.
But Pitlick, who didn’t finish last Saturday’s game after getting hit in the second period, gave the Gophers a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute.
It didn’t last long. The Gophers’ Brent Gates Jr. received a five-minute major penalty for checking from behind and a game disqualification at 7:11, and Penn State’s Andrew Sturtz tied the score at 8:50. It appeared the Nittany Lions scored again, with 22 seconds left in the power play, but the referee waved the goal off for goalie interference and the period ended 1-1.
Nate Sucese put Penn State ahead 2-1 in the sixth minute of the second. Goals by Pitlick on a breakaway at 8:25 and Ryan Norman on a rebound at 14:26 put Minnesota ahead again.
A Gophers goal was waved off early in the third when officials ruled Kloos’ high stick deflected the puck. Five minutes later at 10:25, the Nittany Lions got a goal from Kris Myllari, tying the score at 3-3.
Kloos’ one-timer, after an interference penalty, put the Gophers ahead to stay, putting them eight points ahead of Penn State and keeping them three points ahead of Wisconsin, a 5-2 winner over Michigan, for the Big Ten lead.