Been a long week on my end, but here are some news and notes from State College and gorgeous Pegula Arena just in time to turn the page towards Michigan State at home this weekend.
Move to bring strength and conditioning coach works
As Penn State players walked from their state of the art locker room, with its strength and conditioning center and dry ice shooting gallery, into the media room following Friday's 3-2 overtime win over Minnesota, they walked past their opponents lying on their backs, stretching in the small, cramped hallway.
There was a reason for this. Minnesota brought strength and conditioning coach Cal Dietz on the trip to State College. The players were going through their postgame cool down in the space available.
That work paid off with a 7-1 victory Saturday afternoon.
"Our preparation for today with Cal, our strength coach, being on the road trip from last night and the quick turnaround this morning was important," head coach Don Lucia said.
Taking the extra steps preparing with the right attitude mattered more with Minnesota playing a 3 p.m. local time game the next day against an opponent that should be contending alongside the Gophers for the Big Ten regular season championship.
"We talked about as soon as (Friday's) game ended that we walked in and said, ‘you can't let one game beat you twice.' We've been through it and it seems like all year long our guys have been able to rebound the second night if we've been beat on the first night for the most part," said Lucia. "It was an important win for us."
Minnesota is 3-2 after losing the first night this season with road wins against Michigan and Penn State.
Ryan Collins scratched Saturday for Jack Sadek
Sophomore defenseman Ryan Collins was scratched for the first time this season Saturday as a reaction to having been on the ice for all three Penn State goals the night before.
"We felt that let's get Jack (Sadek) in there. He hasn't played for a while, but it sends a little message too that everybody has to be accountable," said Lucia, who the night before was not happy with Collins' two mistakes on the game-winning goal while not mentioning him by name.
In Collins' place was freshman Jack Sadek, whose only games played so far have been due to Steve Johnson being injured or Nick Seeler's one-game suspension.
Lucia thought Sadek did a nice job playing Saturday despite his lack of ice time lately. Freshman goaltender Eric Schierhorn agreed.
"I thought he played great. There was no hesitation in his game. He was jumping up into the play, he was making strong plays, he was playing like an everyday guy. It was awesome to see my good friend Jack go out there and play a good game when he was counted on," he said.
A.J. Michaelson out with upper body injury
Michaelson did not make the trip to State College and likely will not play this weekend after blocking a shot late in the 4-3 overtime loss to Harvard January 2nd. I'll update this if his status changes later today.
In the senior's place, an all-freshman fourth line of Ryan Norman, Darian Romanko and Jack Ramsey played both games. Norman scored his second career goal late in Saturday's game while Romanko and Ramsey each got assists. For Ramsey, it was his first collegiate point.
Two Gopher commits play in last night's USHL Top Prospects Game
2016 Draft Eligible forwards Garrett Wait (Edina, MN/Waterloo) and Rem Pitlick (Plymouth, MN/Muskegon) both played in last night's game in Omaha. Neither had points in the Top Prospects Game, designed to showcase the USHL's best undrafted players, but Wait did hit a post.
Both players are expected to come in next season.
Three more players that committed to Minnesota - goaltender Ryan Edquist (verbally committed), defenseman Sam Rossini and forward William Fallstrom (verbally committed) - were selected to play but withdrew due to injury. (Also injured is US U-18 defenseman Ryan Lindgren.)
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate