UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Freshman Alex Limoges (Winchester, Va.) set a career-high with a pair of goals and one assist for a three-point night to lead No. 18 Penn State past No. 8 Minnesota, 5-2, in Big Ten Conference action this evening to close out the regular season inside Pegula Ice Arena.
The weekend sweep is the first-ever for the Nittany Lions against Minnesota and by taking three-of-four games and nine of a possible 12 total points against the Gophers this season they secured their first-ever series victory against Minnesota.
Penn State improves to 16-13-5 on the year and 9-10-5-2 in conference action while the Gophers fall to 19-15-2 overall and 10-12-2-1 in the Big Ten.
With the victory Penn State secures the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten and will host No. 5 Minnesota next weekend in a best-of-three quarterfinal series in the Big Ten Tournament on Friday and Saturday with game three if necessary set for Sunday.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Freshman Alex Limoges (Winchester, Va.) opened the scoring taking advantage of another Minnesota turnover as a strong fore-check from sophomore Liam Folkes (Scarborough, Ont.) caused it at the blue-line and the freshman fired from the slot beating Gopher Mat Robson five-hole for the 1-0 score at 3:36 of the first period.
- Penn State extended the lead just after a power-play expired as sophomore Denis Smirnov (Moscow, Russia) banged home a rebound off Limoges’ initial shot for the 2-0 lead at 10:48 of the opening frame.
- A strong play in the defensive zone by freshman Cole Hults (Stoughton, Wis.) led to another Nittany Lion goal as sophomore Nate Sucese (Fairport, N.Y.) collected the puck in the neutral zone and skated in on an odd-man rush dishing the puck across the slot to classmate Brandon Biro (Sherwood Park, Alb.) for the open net goal and 3-0 lead at 6:24 of the second period.
- Minnesota cut into the deficit as Scott Reedy spun in the slot and fed the puck to Mike Szmatula who was wide open and fired a shot over the glove of Nittany Lion sophomore Peyton Jones (Langhorne, Pa.) for the 3-1 score at 18:02 of the middle frame.
- Penn State regained the three-goal lead taking advantage of an early power-play in the third period as Smirnov curled into the slot and fired far post and Limoges got the stick on it and redirected it over the left shoulder of Robson for the 4-1 lead at 2:37.
- The Gophers cut the deficit to a pair of goals as Brent Gates Jr. finished off a feed in front off a great feed from behind the net by Tyler Sheehy for the 4-2 score at 14:44 of the final frame.
- Senior James Robinson (Cochrane, Alb.) hit the empty net to seal the victory as on his senior weekend the Captain opened the scoring last night and capped the scoring tonight.
- Jones stopped 38 pucks, his second highest save total this season, and improves to 15-11-4 on the year with the victory while Robson falls to 7-4-1 on the year after a 35 save performance.
- Senior Matt Erlichman (Bedford, Pa.) made his Pegula Ice Arena debut playing the final 1:07 and securing his first collegiate save in the process.
- Tonight marked the 74th consecutive sellout at Pegula Ice Arena and the 89th overall.
- Penn State was outshot by the slim 41-40 margin and went 1-for-5 on the power-play while going 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
- The Nittany Lions improve to 7-14-0 in the all-time series against the Gophers and 4-6-0 at Pegula Ice Arena.
- Robinson and Erlichman along with senior classmates Erik Autio (Espoo, Finland) and Trevor Hamilton (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.) were each honored during a brief pre-game ceremony as part of senior day.
- With his first period goal, Limoges now has a career-best three-game goal streak and has scored four goals in his last three games. His three-point night was also a career-high and marked his second multi-point effort this season.
- With a goal and an assist, Smirnov secured his eighth multi-point game this season and the 21st of his career. The goal snapped a five-game goalless streak for the sophomore.
- With a pair of assists, Hults has five multi-point efforts this season.
“There was some curiosity coming into the night, we knew we were going to face a completely different team. I don’t think it was realistic to think that we were going to have same consistent performance at least offensively [as last night] for sure, but we were curious to see if we could sustain [that effort], Minnesota is a great program and we knew they would come out stronger and they did, but we were ready for it.” – Guy Gadowsky
- Penn State earns the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament and will host fifth-ranked Minnesota in a best-of-three quarterfinal series next Friday and Saturday with game three if necessary set for Sunday.