Minnesota scores sweeps Penn State in weekend games

The Gophers beat the Nittany Lions 5-1 on Friday and 5-2 on Saturday at Mariucci Arena.

Darian Romanko, cente, eyes the puck at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis on Friday, Feb. 4, 2017. The Gophers beat Penn State 5-2 for their sixth consecutive win.

Ellen Schmidt

Darian Romanko, cente, eyes the puck at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis on Friday, Feb. 4, 2017. The Gophers beat Penn State 5-2 for their sixth consecutive win.

Drew Cove

The Gophers hockey team stifled the nation’s best offense in a
series sweep over the weekend.

No. 6 Penn State (16-6-2,
5-4-1 Big Ten) has averaged 4.17 goals a game this season, but No. 7 Minnesota
(17-7-2, 8-2-0 Big Ten) scored 10 of its own while allowing just three.

“It was an important weekend,” said head coach Don Lucia. “It
will be a critical four-game segment coming up.”

After a 5-1 win Friday night, the Gophers completed the sweep —
Minnesota’s third of the year — on Saturday at Mariucci arena with a 5-2
victory.

On Saturday, forward Leon Bristedt led the way for Minnesota and
scored the first goal for the Gophers shorthanded and tied the score 1-1.

He scored again on the power play in the second period and once
more even strength in the third period for his first career hat trick.

“It’s always good to get one,” Bristedt said. “That’s something
you [don’t] necessarily strive after. It feels good. I’m happy I got one.”

Goaltender Eric Schierhorn played another solid game Saturday for
his 17th victory of the season.  He
stopped 38 of the 40 shots that he faced.

The sophomore was saved twice late in periods by forwards Brent
Gates Jr. and Vinni Lettieri. Gates saved a goal late in the first period, and
Lettieri blocked a puck late in the second.

“It’s a team effort,” Schierhorn said. “I think I said it last
weekend, that’s how a team works: I bail them out … they bail me out.”

In Friday’s game, Lettieri and his linemates had one of the most
impressive shifts for the Gophers all season to kick-start Minnesota’s offense.

Some nifty passes and takeaways led to a rebound popping to
Lettieri for the game’s opening goal — and a reward for a line that worked
hard.

Highlighting Friday’s five-goal bonanza for the Gophers was forward
Rem Pitlick, who scored two goals.

Both came for the freshman as a result of skating hard to the
front of the net to get rebounds generated by his linemates.

“Just right place at the right time,” Pitlick said. “[I was] the
beneficiary of Tyler [Sheehy] and Justin [Kloos] making good plays, so I was
lucky to be there.”

Pitlick brought his season total of goals to five with the effort,
and tallied the eventual game winner.

Minnesota’s defense was stingy Friday, holding Penn State to only
29 shots, its lowest total all season.

“Our [defensive] core played really well,” said defenseman Jake
Bischoff. “We were able to deflect everything out of the middle, limit their
shots and I’m really happy with how the [defense was] able to play.”

Schierhorn kept Minnesota strong all weekend and totaled a
combined 66 saves on 69 total shots.

“Our goaltender was good this weekend,” Lucia said. “I think he
helped us win a couple games.”