Saturday, March 18, 2017

Game Story: Penn State beats Gophers in 2nd OT of Big Ten tournament semifinal (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

3/17/2017 Game Story

Big Ten conference tournament semifinal
#4 Penn State 4
#1 Minnesota 3

DETROIT – Twenty-seven days removed from a last-second goal and ensuing overtime road victory against Penn State, the Gophers men’s hockey team was unable to repeat the feat Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Despite a career-high 59 saves by Eric Schierhorn, Penn State defeated the Gophers for the first time in five meetings this season.

Nittany Lions defenseman Erik Autio pinched and put a Denis Smirnov pass into the back of the net to take home the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament berth and hand the Gophers a 4-3 double-overtime loss in a Big Ten tournament semifinal. At a total of 93 minutes, 33 seconds, it was the longest game in Big Ten history, and it was an emotional one for the Gophers.

“We played hard and we blocked a lot of shots toward the end,” said Schierhorn, who for the third consecutive game against Penn State set a career high in saves. “We battled. We did. You can’t say we didn’t try and play our hearts out.”

Playing before a crowd announced at 2,791, the Gophers (23-11-3) were able to tie Penn State 3:42 into the third period on defenseman Jack Sadek’s third goal in three games. Like Minnesota’s tying goal in late February, this one came directly off of a faceoff.

The Big Ten regular- season champions had chances late in the game and during overtime. Michigan native Mike Szmatula came closest in the first overtime period. However, it took Penn State (23-11-2) getting the first power play in over two periods on a Leon Bristedt holding call to score the winner.

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