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Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Look Their Best In 5-1 Thumping Of No. 8 Minnesota

on February 23, 2018 9:30 PM

In the microcosm of of Penn State's season the Nittany Lions' 5-1 defeat of No.8 Minnesota proved to be a crucial victory in a still possible --yet difficult- path to the postseason.

The Nittany Lions need wins, and with no more than three games guaranteed on the schedule, it remains to be seen if Penn State can once again punch a last second ticket.  

It was also a sign of improvement. For two periods a Penn State team that has occasionally lost its way in 2017-18 found itself playing one of its better displays of so-called Penn State hockey. The puck flew around the offensive zone, making its way to the net 21 times alone in the first period an almost typo-level 61 times all night. When called on Peyton Jones was strong in goal and the defense did its part to mitigate any mistakes along the way.

James Robinson's deflection into goal seemed inevitable by the time it finally happened, so too Minnesota benefiting from a friendly bounce to tie the game minutes later. Nevertheless Penn State looked the better team, but like so many times before this season, it didn't matter what it looked like, it just mattered what the score was.

So Trevor Hamilton's second period tally made good on the dominance and opened the door for a key victory and just 20 minutes to make it happen.

All season that period had been Penn State's achilles heel in both directions. Leads evaporating, deficits hard to overcome, it had been a difficult 20 minutes for a younger team that had thrived on closing in previous years. For whatever reason it had yet to happen when it had to. If Penn State fails to make the postseason, the third period will be among the culprits.

But then Liam Folkes scored with a snipe. 

Then Evan Barratt.

Then Alex Limoges.

Suddenly, Penn State hockey looked like itself.

In the larger picture the victory notched Penn State's 100th as a program just 210 games into its Division I existence. And for whatever shortcomings this season may hold in the national sense, Penn State beat the No.8 team in the country with relative ease and did it on a night where fans kind of expected it.

Which is something else when you think about it.

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