Matthew Knies calls game as Gophers sweep at Penn State
The Minnesota Gophers star forward scored in the final minute of regulation to forge a tie, then finished it in overtime to fuel a sweep of Penn State on the road.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – In a flashback to Phil Kessel egging on the crowd in Madison nearly two decades ago, Matthew Knies cupped his hand to his ear and skated to the Roar Zone – Penn State’s notoriously raucous student section – when it was all over.
Knies, one of three Minnesota Gopher nominees for the Hobey Baker Award, scored a tying goal in the final minute of regulation, then ended it in the extra session, lifting his team to a 3-2 win over the Nittany Lions and a sweep of their weekend series.
"It was a full 60 minutes from our whole group. Up and down the lineup, everyone was working, contributing, so it was good to see that," said Knies, whose seven game-winning goals are the tops in college hockey. "The resiliency in the last minute to find the back of the net...it was a really good showing from all of us."
Rhett Pitlick also scored for the Gophers (23-8-1 overall, 17-4-1 Big Ten) who got 26 saves from starting goalie Justen Close in the win.
"We got our big guys out there and they found a way," Gophers coach Bob Motzko said of the combo of Knies, Logan Cooley and Jimmy Snuggerud, who tied and won the game. "An exciting finish to college hockey with the 3-on-3. Overall I liked how our team played all weekend long."
Penn State, which is battling for home ice in the conference standings, got goals from Ture Linden and Danny Dzhaniyev along with 29 saves from Liam Souliere, but fell to 19-12-1 and 9-12-1.
"Tonight our team was prepared to play our game and I thought we did, and came within a minute of beating absolutely what I believe is the best team in the nation," Nittany Lions coach Guy Gadowsky said. "They proved that tonight."
The opening period was evenly played, save for the first shot on goal of the game. Just 29 seconds had elapsed when Linden snapped off a rising wrist shot that fooled Close on the glove side, hit the crossbar and landed on the wrong side of the goal line.
Hot Start! pic.twitter.com/bVbpH8eJd9— Penn State Men’s Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) February 18, 2023
The visitors drew even early in the second when a long lead pass from Connor Kurth found Pitlick alone at the offensive blue line. Pitlick’s ninth goal of the season found a gap between Souliere’s knees.
"I'm glad my linemate Connor Kurth chipped that to me. It perfectly landed on my stick," Pitlick said. "There I was for a breakaway and luckily enough it got in."
The Gophers briefly appeared to take the lead later in the second when a rising shot by Garrett Pinoniemi caught the upper right corner of the net, but officials immediately waved no goal, as a sliding Gopher had made incidental contact with the Penn State goalie.
Minnesota dominated long stretches of the third period but could not solve Souliere. Then things looked bleak for the Gophers when Penn State took the lead and just 2:03 remained on the clock. But with Close on the bench, the Gophers pressure continued and Knies popped in a wide angle shot to force overtime.
In the extra session, it was Logan Cooley feeding a cross-ice pass to Knies for the finisher.
MINNESOTA.— Minnesota Men’s Hockey (@GopherHockey) February 19, 2023
BREAK OUT THOSE BROOMS! pic.twitter.com/gStBroLf4h
Redshirting defenseman Matt Staudacher and forward Charlie Strobel were the team’s only healthy scratches. Injured defensemen Brock Faber and Ryan Chesley did not make the trip to Penn State.
Linden’s goal was the first that the Gophers have allowed in the opening minute of a game this season. The previous fastest goal allowed was by Michigan’s Ethan Edwards, 1:36 into a 5-4 Wolverines overtime win on Saturday, Jan. 21 in Minneapolis.
Saturday’s game was the Gophers last true road contest of the season. As the Big Ten regular season champion, they will play any conference tournament games in Minneapolis, then will play the NCAA regional round and (if they win two regional games) the Frozen Four at neutral sites.
The Gophers return home to close out the regular season with two games versus Ohio State next Friday and Saturday at 3M Arena at Mariucci. They split a series with the Buckeyes in October in Columbus, Ohio.
Minnesota 3, Penn State 2, OT
Penn State 1-0-1-0—2
First period — 1. PS, Ture Linden 8 (Christian Sarlo), 0:29. Penalties — Logan Cooley, MN (hooking), 13:44; Ashton Calder, PS (hooking), 16:11.
Second period — 2. MN, Rhett Pitlick 9 (Connor Kurth, Luke Mittelstadt), 1:58. Penalties — None.
Third period — 3. PS, Danny Dzhaniyev x (Ashton Calder, Linden), 17:57. 4. MN, Matthew Knies 19 (Jimmy Snuggerud, Jackson LaCombe), 19:19, (EA). Penalties — None.
Overtime — 5. MN, Knies 20 (Cooley), 2:49 Penalties — None.
Shots on goal — MN 6-7-16-3—32; PS 10-6-10-2—28. Goalies — Justen Close, MN (28 shots-26 saves); Liam Souliere, PS (32-29). Power plays — MN 0-of-1, PS 0-of-1. Referees — Sean Fernandez, Brett Sheva. Linesmen — John Waleski, Tommy George. Att. — 6,461.