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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Junior Andrew Sturtz (Buffalo, N.Y.) scored the game-winning goal to help lift fourth-seeded Penn State past No. 5 Minnesota, 5-3, in game one of a best-of-three Big Ten quarterfinal series this evening inside Pegula Ice Arena.
With the win the Nittany Lions run their winning-streak to four games and improve to 17-13-5 this season while the Golden Gophers fall to 19-16-2 in the defeat.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Minnesota opened the scoring as Casey Mittelstadt fired home a power-play goal from the slot beating Nittany Lion sophomore goaltender Peyton Jones (Langhorne, Pa.) over the blocker at 11:13 of the first period for the 1-0 advantage.
- Penn State answered also taking advantage of the power-play as freshman Alex Limoges (Winchester, Va.) freed the puck along the end boards to sophomore Denis Smirnov (Moscow, Russia) who found freshman Cole Hults (Stoughton, Wis.) wide open and the rookie skated below the right dot and fired glove side beating Gopher net-minder Mat Robson for the 1-1 score at 15:39 of the opening period.
- The Nittany Lions took the lead early in the second period taking advantage of roll over time from a five-minute major penalty late in the first period as sophomore Kris Myllari (Kanata, Ont.) sent a beautiful cross-ice pass through the crease connecting with classmate Nate Sucese (Fairport, N.Y.) for a one-timer just below the right dot for the 2-1 lead at 2:35.
- The Golden Gophers equalized the game again taking advantage of a bad turnover behind the Penn State net and Rem Pitlick found Scott Reedy all alone in front and he beat Jones high-glove for the 2-2 score at 15:13 of the middle frame.
- Penn State then erupted for a pair of goals in just 56 seconds over the final two minutes of the second period as Smirnov snuck one by Robson short-side high at 18:49 and junior Andrew Sturtz (Buffalo, N.Y.) raced down the near boards toe-dragging past a downed defenseman into the slot and firing over the glove of Robson for the 4-2 lead at 19:45.
- Minnesota cut into the deficit to 4-3 as Mittelstadt potted his second of the game on the power-play as he hesitated below the right face-off dot and flicked the puck over Jones' left shoulder at 15:00 of the third period.
- Freshman Evan Barratt (Bristol, Pa.) sealed the game as he hit the empty net with just 30 seconds left on the clock for the 5-3 final.
Jones moves to 16-11-4 on the year after collecting 32 saves while Robson falls to 7-5-1 after making 25 stops in the defeat.
- Penn State was outshot for just the eighth time all season as Minnesota held the slim 35-30 edge while going 2-for-5 with the man-advantage. The Nittany Lions were 2-for-6 on the power-play.
- Penn State improves to 8-14-0 all-time against Minnesota and has now won five of the last six games dating back to last season's Big Ten Tournament Semifinal.
- Limoges extends his career-long point streak to four games (4-2-6) after his first period assist.
- With a goal and an assist, Sturtz now has 13 multi-point efforts this season and 30 for his career while Smirnov notches his second-consecutive multi-point game and his ninth this season and 22nd of his career after having a one goal and one assist night.
- With 39 points this season, Sturtz moves up to fourth in the Big Ten and tied for 15th in the nation and has a new career-high for points. His 39 points is also the third most in a single-season in program history behind the 40 from Casey Bailey (2014-15) and the 47 of Denis Smirnov (2016-17).
- Sturtz also notched his second game-winning goal of the season and the eighth of his career, which is a new Penn State record breaking a tie he held with Smirnov.
- Senior Trevor Hamilton (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.) had the primary assist on the Sturtz goal and has now registered at least one point in five of his last seven games and leads all Big Ten defensemen with 26 points this season and his 21 assists are just one shy of the single-season Penn State record for a defenseman set last season by Vince Pedrie.
- The two teams return to Pegula Icea Arena tomorrow evening for game two of the series with puck drop slated for 7 p.m. as Penn State looks to advance to the Big Ten Semifinals next weekend.
- The game will be available on Fox Sports North as well as streaming online on BTN2Go and Fox Sports Go.