STATE COLLEGE, PA - Fist bumps and smiles a-plenty heading off the ice, a quick turnaround was just what Hudson Fasching and Minnesota needed on the road against Penn State
A night after being stopped twice on shorthanded breakaways by the Nittany Lions in an overtime loss, Fasching scored a pair of shorthanded goals. Minnesota scored a a season season-high seven goals Saturday afternoon at Pegula Arena and defeated Penn State 7-1 to earn a series split in its most dominating performance.
"I don't think I've had two shorthanded goals in a season, much less a game. It's incredible," said Fasching, who leads the team with 11 goals on the season. "It's fun to be able to do that. Obviously I had a lot of help. (Justin) Kloos made a great play and helped me out."
Justin Kloos scored a career-high four points (1G-3A) for the second time this season and Eric Schierhorn made 29 saves for Minnesota (9-10-0, 4-2-0-0 Big Ten).
With the memories of missed opportunities less than 24 hours old given the early 3:00 p.m. local start, the Gophers were able to get the frustrations out of a stretch where Minnesota lost several close games, including back-to-back games in overtime. Both sides of the ice were successful executing the plays necessary this time around.
Sophomore Leon Bristedt opened the scoring 7:43 into the game to become the first Gopher with ten goals this season. Fasching joined him in the double digit club 4 minutes later, putting a move on Penn State goaltender Matthew Skoff and shooting the puck over his pads to get the bench going.
"I think the big thing (to change momentum) was first period success, getting a couple goals tonight," said Kloos, whose team was held without a goal on 13 shots Friday. "Last night we had a great first period with five or six grade A chances, but we weren't able to beat Eamon (McAdam) on the other side. Overall first period success just helped us roll into the next few periods."
Tyler Sheehy scored his eighth goal of the season early in the second period on a snap shot that fooled Skoff, who made 25 saves.
Vinni Lettieri kicked off the third period with a goal to make it 4-0. The junior stole a pass in front of the net for the first of four goals in the third period. Fasching, Kloos - both shorthanded - and freshman Ryan Norman added the others. Last night's overtime hero, Vince Pedrie, notched a late goal for the Nittany Lions to avoid being shut out.
Minnesota's defense was successful stopping a Penn State (13-4-3, 3-1-0-0 Big Ten) offense that entered the weekend as one of the top-three in total scoring. PSU head coach Guy Gadowsky tried to change things up by pulling Skoff on a power play with 12:45 remaining in order to get a goal, but it ended with Kloos' empty-netter.
Schierhorn credited his defense for limiting the number of scoring chances, saying "we knew they would shoot a lot, but we wanted to keep them to the perimeter and limit their Grade A scoring chances. I think we executed that to a T tonight and that was why they were only able to get one goal."
On the penalty kill, Minnesota tried to revamp its play after the St. Cloud State series in late November, according to Fasching. That has led to more aggressive play and opportunities, which culminated in special teams goals despite both teams going 0-4 on the power play.
By once again rebounding after a loss and winning on the second night of a series, the Gophers are in better position for the Big Ten conference standings. The team has split with both Michigan and Penn State on the road. Those two, along with Minnesota, are expected to contend for the title.
"We've learned a lot about ourselves. As a team we've grown a lot through those games. We learned resiliency and both these buildings are really fun to play in," Fasching said. "Those are two pretty intimating rinks and two really good teams so we're pretty happy with how we're playing right now. We're growing."
And points aside, it was a better performance from Fasching and the team both nights this time around.
"It was a pretty good weekend for us, but I thought that when you say 120 (minutes) our play was consistent from start to finish all weekend long," said Minnesota head coach Don Lucia. "It's just too bad we couldn't erase the 30 seconds of overtime last night."
MIN: 2 - 1 - 4 -- 7
PSU: 0 - 0 - 1 -- 1
MIN - Leon Bristedt (10) (Tommy Novak, Nick Seeler 7:43 EV)
MIN - Hudson Fasching (10) (Justin Kloos, Nick Seeler 11:57 SHG)
MIN - Team (Too many players) 11:40
PSU - Vince Pedrie (Roughing) 15:24
MIN - Tyler Sheehy (8) (Justin Kloos, Jack Sadek 2:29)
PSU - Alec Marsh (Boarding) 3:48
PSU - Andrew Sturtz (Clipping) 9:51
PSU - Alec Marsh (Holding) 14:49
MIN - Jack Glover (Interference) 17:31
MIN - Vinni Lettieri (3) (unassisted 1:31)
MIN - Justin Kloos (5) (unassisted 9:24 SHG)
MIN - Hudson Fasching (11) (Kloos 13:51 SHG)
PSU - Vince Pedrie (5) (Dylan Richard, David Goodwin 16:21)
MIN - Ryan Norman (2) (Jack Ramsey, Darian Romanko 17:25)
MIN - Michael Brodzinski (Cross-Checking) 5:49
MIN - Michael Brodzinski (Roughing after the whistle) 5:49
MIN - Jack Glover (Roughing) 13:13
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