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Minnesota Completes Sweep Over Penn State

Leon Bristedt had a hat trick for the Gophers
Daniel Mick

Leon Bristedt scored goals short-handed, on the power play, and at even strength for a hat trick that helped lead Minnesota to a 5-2 victory and a sweep over Penn State at Mariucci Arena.

The Nittany Lions started strong after being blown out on Friday night, and took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Alec Marsh, who was inserted into Saturday’s line-up after sitting Friday night. But Leon Bristedt answered back for Minnesota with a short-handed goal to tie the game.

Penn State would score early in the second period to take a 2-1 lead, but a three-goal outburst by the Gophers later in the period would give them a commanding 4-2 lead after two periods.

Bristedt capped off the scoring, and his hat trick, with an even strength goal in the third period as added insurance.

The win keeps Minnesota tied atop the Big Ten standings with Wisconsin, who defeated Michigan State in overtime tonight. Penn State remains in third place in the league, trailing both the Gophers and Badgers by eight points with series against each in the next two weeks.

Notes and Thoughts

-It was a much better start for Penn State tonight compared to last night. The Nittany Lions were more aggressive in terms of attacking the net and going after loose pucks in the Minnesota zone. That created a much more wide open up-and-down game , which favored the Gophers in terms of creating quality chances, but did yield a 1-0 lead for Penn State when Alec Marsh caught the Minnesota defense by surprise by sneaking into the front of the net and taking a nice pass for a goal.

-I thought Minnesota caught a bit of a break—albeit one they created for themselves—with Leon Bristedt’s first period shorthanded goal. That was a big opportunity for the Nittany Lions to go up 2-0, or at least get out of the first period with a lead. But Penn State’s power play—which was not very good in limited use this weekend—was incredibly sloppy. They narrowly avoided turning the puck over at the Minnesota blue line for a breakaway twice, before Leon Bristedt put pressure on a defenseman that was clearly expecting none and earning a breakaway to tie the game.

That goal become more important when Penn State scored early in the second period. Minnesota controlled the play when they needed to all weekend, so a 2-0 lead wouldn’t have been insurmountable, but it would have been much more difficult.

-The three-goal second period is what put this game away for Minnesota, but they actually had a pretty poor period in terms of generating quality chances. They were bailed out by some pretty poor goaltending by Peyton Jones, who allowed a soft goal to Brent Gates Jr, then misplayed a fairly routine shot, creating a rebound for Taylor Cammarata, and while the Bristedt power play goal was a tougher save, he probably could have gotten that one too.

Penn State was playing really well up to that point and winning a lot of 50/50 races to pucks, but once they got behind, they just didn’t have anything left in the tank to make a comeback.

-Another really nice game for Taylor Cammarata, and he was rewarded for it. He drove hard to the net to put back Ramsey’s rebound for a goal, and he set up the fourth goal by going hard into a dirty area of the ice and collecting a loose puck to maintain possession, which eventually led to Bristedt’s goal. If he gets going, Minnesota legitimately has two top lines, which is something I don’t think think anybody else in the country has.

-Penn State looks like they’ll finish the night 11th in the Pairwise and eight points back of Minnesota/Wisconsin in the Big Ten standings, so they’re still in decent shape and in control of their own destiny. But I wonder how big of a wound going four straight games allowing 5+ goals, and not even being competitive against Minnesota will leave. A lot of people questioned how good Penn State was after their big run early against a weak schedule, and I wonder if some of that doubt is starting to creep into their locker room too. The road doesn’t get much easier with a road trip to red-hot Wisconsin next year, and then hosting Minnesota after that. They’ll have to figure out things quick or this season could start to slip away from them.

Final Scoring

First Period

8:14 Alec Marsh from Andrew Sturtz and Chase Berger 1-0 Penn State

Sturtz made a nice pass out of the right corner to a streaking Marsh in front of the net, and Marsh made a nice move to his backhand to beat Schierhorn.

14:51 Leon Bristedt unassisted (shorthanded) 1-1 tie

Penn State’s last defender back had the puck stripped away from him by Bristedt, creating a breakaway opportunity. Bristedt deked to his backhand and then slipped the puck five hole on Jones for the goal.

Second Period

0:41 David Goodwin from Chase Berger and Andrew Sturtz 2-1 Penn State

Berger beat a Minnesota defenseman at the Gopher blue line and came in down the right side on a 2-on-1, where he fed a pass to Goodwin for a tap-in goal.

8:25 Brent Gates Jr. from Mike Szmatula and Connor Reilly 2-2 tie

Szmatula made a pass out of the left corner to Gates in the slot. Gates one-timed a shot along the ice that went under the pad of Jones.

9:39 Taylor Cammarata from Jack Ramsey 3-2 Minnesota

Ramsey fired a hard wrist from the top of the right circle. Jones misplayed the rebound and Cammarata was waiting on the doorstep to bang back the rebound.

16:39 Leon Bristedt from Taylor Cammarata and Vinni Lettieri (power play) 4-2 Minnesota

Cammarata made a pass across the box to Bristedt at the right face-off circle and his one-timed shot went between the pads of Jones.

Third Period

5:43 Leon Bristedt from Steve Johnson and Jack Sadek 5-2 Minnesota

Johnson skated the puck into the zone on the left wing and made a perfect cross-ice pass to Bristedt, who took a one-timed slap shot into a wide open net.