Blake McLaughlin connected with Sammy Walker to score the game-winning goal as the Minnesota Golden Gophers stabbed off a comeback attempt from the Penn State Nittany Lions by the score of 3-2 on Saturday night in the semifinals of the Big Ten hockey tournament.
In the first period, the top-seeded Golden Gophers scored first when Ben Meyers redirected a shot past the left side of the crease past goalie Liam Souliere’s glove hand to take a 1-0 lead. The Gophers extended the lead to 2-0 just 27 seconds into the second period early in the second period on a power play when Jackson LaCombe’s slapshot squeaked past Souliere.
Penn State cut their deficit in half when Christian Sarlo connected with Tyler Paquette, who beat goaltender Justin Close on a wrist shot to the back of the post. The Nittany Lions evened the score up on a power-play goal of their own when freshman Dylan Lugris redirected a shot pass from Connor MacEachern fast the glove hand of Close.
On the game-winning goal, the Nittany Lions failed to clear out the puck leaving the net open for Walker, and Souliere could not get there in time as the Gophers held on for the final two and a half minutes to escape with the victory.
Penn State outshot Minnesota 30-25 while going 1-for-2 on the power play, while Minnesota scored on their only power-play opportunity.
Penn State finishes the season 17-20-1 while Minnesota improves to 24-11 and will face the Michigan Wolverines in the Big Ten Championship game next Saturday.