It was a day to remember for Penn State hockey as the Nittany Lions beat Minnesota 4-2 in Minneapolis and had international success within the same evening on Friday.
In the states, it was Penn State taking care of the Gophers thanks to a late Alex Limoges empty-net goal as the Nittany Lions opened the second half of the year with a key victory.
Brandon Biro tied the game at 1-1 with a goal-of-the-year candidate, shooting while partially flying through the air to give Penn State momentum. From there it was defenseman Kevin Kerr adding another just five minutes later to give the Nittany Lions a 2-1 lead heading into the second intermission.
With 20 minutes to go, Denis Smirnov added a third goal just moments into the period to make it 3-1 and Limoges’ tally sealed the deal as the Gophers made a late charge.
Peyton Jones was solid in goal all night with 30 saves and defenseman Evan Bell picked up a point in his debut after sitting out for the fall semester due to NCAA transfer rules. For Jones it was a much-needed outing as he continues to give Penn State stability in net after a shaky start to the season from both he and Chris Funkey.
All in all the victory was a crucial one for a Penn State team the has had ups and downs all season long despite a fairly skilled roster. The victory was a testament to the team’s depth, winning without Evan Barratt and Aarne Tavitie, both among the most talented and valuable players on the team.
Meanwhile across the border at the World Junior Championship in Canada, both Barratt (USA) and Talvitie (Finland) made the championship game on Saturday. Barratt centered the Americans’ second line en route to a 2-1 victory over Russia while Talvitie, captaining the Finnish team, scored twice in a 6-1 victory over Switzerland.
The championship game between the two countries and two Nittany Lions, will air on the NHL Network at 8 p.m. The Nittany Lions, meanwhile, will take the ice again at 6 p.m. on the Big Ten Network. Penn State will look to make it seven wins in the last eight meetings against the Gophers.