Minneapolis, MN – Don’t look now, but the Gophers are rolling.
Now 9-1-1 in their last 11 games, the Minnesota Gophers (18-7-5 Overall (3-0 OT), 11-5-4 B1G) added another quality defensive performance to their recent pile of them, shutting out the Penn State Nittany Lions (12-13-3 (0-0), 4-11-3) by an identical 3-0 scoreline to Friday night’s shutout victory. Combined with other results from around the country, the wins move Minnesota up to #8 in the Pairwise rankings.
Penn State came out with a jump early in the game, putting the first five shots on goal and winning every 50/50 puck battle. Minnesota weathered the storm and turned the tide about halfway through the opening period, and from then on the teams played even-up.
The second period started 0-0, but the Gophers broke the ice just 1:12 into the frame. Connor Kurth turned a puck over in the neutral zone before finding Aaron Huglen and Brody Lamb up ahead. Lamb and Huglen entered the zone on a two-on-one, with Lamb feeding Huglen backdoor for an empty net goal to put Minnesota up 1-0.
Huglen scored again from nearly the same spot in the left wing circle just minutes later at 4:34, when he took a Rhett Pitlick cross-ice pass and buried a snapshot to put the Gophers up 2-0.
After most of a hard-fought third period, Mason Nevers scored the backbreaker on a Herculean individual effort play at 14:54 of the third period. The Gophers and Justen Close melted down the rest of the game, and Close earned his 13th career shutout to tie him for first all-time for Gopher goalies with Adam Wilcox and Kellen Briggs.
Up next for Minnesota is a trip to South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish. NBC owns the rights to Notre Dame athletics, so expect the hockey games next weekend to stream on Peacock. Friday’s game is at 6:30 central time, while Saturday’s rematch starts at 5PM central.