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January 13, 2014

Lions come up empty vs. No. 1 Gophers

The Penn State men's ice hockey team outshot top-ranked Minnesota, but it wasn't able to earn a split in the two-game series, falling to the Golden Gophers, 5-2, Monday night at the Pegula Ice Arena.

While the Nittany Lions finished with 38 shots to Minnesota's 25, they weren't able to rally back after surrendering an early goal to center Travis Boyd.

"That was a game that kind of hurt," Nittany Lions forward Kenny Brooks said. "To play that well and to not come out with a win is frustrating."

Just as it had in a 3-2 victory Sunday night, Minnesota jumped on top in the first period. After a couple of quick passes around Penn State's zone, right wing Hudson Fasching crossed the puck to Boyd for the quick one-timer with only 2 minutes, 25 seconds gone in the game.

Unfazed by the power play goal, the Nittany Lions' defense and goalie Eamon McAdam held the Gophers scoreless for the rest of the period.

Penn State (4-12-1, 0-4-0-0 Big Ten) also generated some scoring opportunities in the first period, the best of which came when Taylor Holstrom fired a shot that went over Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox's pad only to settle into his glove.

Gadowsky said his team played better than it had previously even though the result was a loss.

"I thought we generated a lot more legitimate chances," he said. " I felt good about our chances."

He was also happy with the play of Brooks and McAdam, who were starting for the second consecutive game.

The game was the first official White Out at the Pegula Arena, with 6,154 fans in attendance. New Penn State football coach James Franklin made an appearance at and mingled with students. Gadowsky described the atmosphere as "motivating."

The momentum seemed to be going Penn State's way during the second period, before Minnesota scored with 3:45 to go on the first of two goals by Sam Warning. Warning got his second goal six minutes into the third period.

The Nittany Lions countered with a goal by Brooks with 9:59 left in the third period. The goal gave the team a lift and energized the crowd, but the Lions' momentum quickly dissipated, as Minnesota's Nate Condon scored 17 seconds later. Penn State forward Curtis Loik called it "a momentum crusher."

Loik brought the Lions within two goals with 4:30 remaining in the game, sneaking the puck through the glove side of Wilcox. "I took the puck wide and let 'er go," Loik said.

Minnesota (15-2-3, 5-0-1-0) finished the scoring with an empty-net goal by Justin Kloos with four seconds remaining.

Gadowsky said he saw some encouraging signs in the Lions' performance Monday night. "I am happy with the improvement and performance," he said, "but not with the result."

Penn State returns to action this weekend with a two-game series at Michigan State. The first game is at 6:30 p.m. Friday and will air on the Big Ten Network.


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