By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Don't look now, but No. 18 Penn State men's hockey did it again. After defeating No. 8 Minnesota 5-1 Friday night, the Nittany Lions got the best of the Golden Gophers again Saturday, this time by a 5-2 score to complete the program's first series sweep against Minnesota.
Sophomore goalie Peyton Jones did his part in helping the Blue and White close out their regular season with a victory. Coming off a game Friday night where he only faced a total of 15 shots, Jones came up big in game two of the series, making 38 saves in what was a very busy night for him.
"I thought I played well," Jones said. "But the team played great in front of me and I was just there when they needed me."
Although Jones made some incredible saves, including 17 in the third period, he wasn't the only Penn State goalie who received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at Pegula Ice Arena Saturday night. Senior goaltender Matt Erlichman entered the game to a loud cheer from the crowd and that long tribute was exactly how he would finish off his senior weekend.
Erlichman, a walk-on from Penn State's club hockey team, skated onto the ice with 1:07 remaining in what will most certainly be a game he will never forget. The Pennsylvania native not only played in his first home game for Penn State, but registered the first save of his collegiate career.
"It was awesome," Jones said when asked about Erlichman getting a warm welcome from the home faithful. "He deserves everything he got tonight. He works so hard on and off the ice."
"I'm really happy that he got in here at Pegula Ice Arena," Gadowsky said. "It's a special experience to play here and I'm really happy he got that opportunity."
On the other end of the ice, the Blue and White were lead offensively by freshman forward Alex Limoges, who got Penn State off to a much-needed fast start when he found the back of the net just 3:36 into the game.
"They (Minnesota) came out firing and were a better team than us early," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "When Limoges scored the first goal, we breathed so much easier. I thought that (goal) let us get into our game-plan and we weren't so nervous. We knew they came out strong, but when we went up 1-0 it gave us some confidence."
Limoges scored another goal two minutes and 37 seconds into the third period to extend the Nittany Lions lead to three. The Virginia native stretched his consecutive goal streak to a career high three games after a personal best two goal, one assist night.
Limgoes credited his confident play as of late to his increased sense of comfort with the team, having finally made the adjustment to college hockey.
"At the start of the season I was somewhat intimidated," Limoges said. "College is a step up. These guys are bigger, stronger and faster. I've had the same line mates from then to now and we've developed a lot of chemistry in practice. When one of us gets a chance, we're all rewarded. It doesn't matter who scores."Looking ahead, the Nittany Lions will host their first home postseason event in program history as the Golden Gophers once again visit Hockey Valley. This time, it's to kick off the Big Ten Championship tournament. The best-of-three series between No. 4 seeded Penn State and No. 5 seeded Minnesota will begin Friday night.