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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Behind a 20 save performance from sophomore goaltender Peyton Jones (Langhorne, Pa.), the No. 11 Penn State men's ice hockey team defeated No. 7 Minnesota, 3-1, in the Big Ten Conference opener this evening from 3M Arena at Mariucci.
Penn State improves to 2-1-0 on the year and 1-0-0 in the Big Ten while the loss drops Minnesota to 1-2-0 overall and 0-1-0 in conference action.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Penn State opened the scoring just after a series of penalties had expired as junior Andrew Sturtz (Buffalo, N.Y.) forced a turnover and raced after the loose puck beating a pair of Gophers down ice on a breakaway. With a nifty move he slipped a backhanded beauty over the right pad of a sliding Eric Schierhorn for the 1-0 edge at 15:03 of the first period.
- The Nittany Lions extended their lead early in the second period benefiting from the man-advantage after Minnesota was whistled for too many men. With the puck stuck along the half wall in the Gopher zone, freshman Alex Limoges (Winchester, Va.) gained possession and fed the puck to senior Erik Autio (Espoo, Finland) at the point who found sophomore Denis Smirnov (Moscow, Russia) wide open at the left circle and he fired a wrist shot past the glove of Schierhorn, off the post and in for the 2-0 lead at 3:06.
- PSU made the score 3-0 just after a 5-on-3 power-play expired midway through the second period when sophomore Nikita Pavlychev (Yaroslavl, Russia) tipped in a goal on the doorstep off a great feed from freshman Cole Hults (Stoughton, Wisconsin) at 9:36 during the man-advantage. Smirnov added the secondary assist on the goal.
- Minnesota cut into the deficit as Ryan Norman received a pass in front of the crease and lifted the puck over the glove of Jones for the 3-1 score at 8:57 of the final frame.
Jones was tremendous all night stopping 20-of-21 shots including an incredible diving stick save near the end of the second period on a two-on-zero chance by the Gophers. The sophomore moves to 2-1-0 on the season and has started in net 19 straight games. Schierhorn falls to 1-2-0 on the season after making 23 saves.
- The Nittany Lions improve to 5-13 all-time against Minnesota and earn just their second victory in nine chances at Mariucci.
- Penn State has now won four consecutive conference openers and are 4-1 overall in Big Ten openers.
- Penn State held the 26-21 edge in shots on goal and went 2-for-3 with the man-advantage and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
- Smirnov now has a two-game point streak and is now second in the conference with five points (two goals, three assists). He registered his second consecutive multiple-point game and the 15th of his career.
- After registering his first goal of the season and the 41st of his career, Sturtz is now just four goals shy of tying the Penn State career record for goals of 45 held by Casey Bailey.
- Freshman Cole Hults registered his first career point with the primary assist on Pavlychev's goal.
The two teams will return to 3M Arena at Mariucci to conclude the series on Sunday with a 4 p.m. ET puck drop.