MINNEAPOLIS — There wasn’t a situation where Minnesota’s Leon Bristedt wasn’t able to score on Saturday night.
The junior from Stockholm, Sweden, scored a hat trick that featured a short-handed, power-play and even-strength goal in the Gophers’ 5-2 win over Penn State on Saturday. The win completed the sweep for Minnesota, which won 5-1 on Friday night.
“It’s always good to get one,” Bristedt said. “That’s something that you not necessarily strive after, but it feels good.”
Bristedt scored one goal per period, short-handed in the first, on a power play in the second, and even-strength in the third. The goals were his ninth, 10th and 11th of the season.
“You look at this weekend, the guys that we needed to score did,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. “That’s a sign of a good weekend for us. Obviously (goaltender) Eric (Schierhorn) played well. I thought we did a good job for the most part keeping pucks to the outside and didn’t allow them any second-chance opportunities.”
Before they were able to pull away from the Nittany Lions, Minnesota had to erase two one-goal deficits in the first half of the game.
Penn State’s Alec Marsh broke the scoreless tie 8:14 into the first period when he found himself wide open in the slot after Andrew Sturtz gave him the puck from the corner. Marsh corralled the pass and beat Schierhorn with a backhanded shot.
With about five minutes left in the first, a too many men penalty against Minnesota actually worked in favor of the Gophers and led to Bristedt’s short-handed goal. After Penn State fumbled a puck and failed to keep the offensive zone, the Swede raced to grab the puck in the neutral zone and beat Peyton Jones with a backhanded shot through his five-hole on the breakaway.
Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said that the short-handed goal was backbreaking.
“I thought that we did come out well and we had momentum and we were playing well, that was a bit of killer,” he said. “We had to regroup from that, but that’s really what started it. Give him credit, it was a great finish, but that put us back on our heels a little bit.”
Penn State used a strong start to the second period to regain the lead 41 seconds in. David Goodwin scored his fourth goal of the season on a perfectly executed two-on-one by the Nittany Lions. Chase Berger delivered the cross-crease pass to Goodwin.
Minnesota tied the game again roughly eight minutes later when Brent Gates Jr. took a Mike Szmatula pass from behind the goal line and one-timed it past Jones.
The Nittany Lions started strong in the first and second period and looked to be controlling play in the second before Minnesota tied the game again.
“If you’re not going to win battles, you’re not going to have much of a chance to win games.” Lucia said. “I thought Penn State was really assertive to start the game, like we expected them to be. They had really good push tonight, but fortunately for us we were able to finish on some plays.”
After Gates’ goal, Taylor Cammarata and Bristedt went to work on getting a lead and extending it. Cammarata gave the Gophers the lead 74 seconds after Minnesota tied the game when Jones kicked out a Jack Ramsey shot right to his tape. The senior quickly snapped home his third goal of the season.
“He’s got the skill, and we need that,” Lucia said of Cammarata, who had been a healthy scratch earlier this season. “We’ve been moving guys around, and they’re seniors, they’ve been through it and we want nothing more than for those guys to close out their careers with their best hockey. Hopefully, tonight’s an indication that that will continue.”
Seven minutes later, with Minnesota on a power play, Cammarata threaded a beautiful pass from behind the goal line to Bristedt on the back door, who slammed it home for his second goal of the contest.
“(Cammarata) is a really good player, you just look at that pass over three sticks to me backdoor, that’s a high-class NHL pass,” Bristedt said. “I don’t think anyone else on our team can make that pass.”
Minnesota scored three second-period goals. The game’s middle period has been good the Gophers lately after they struggled during it earlier this season.
Power plays were sparse in Saturday’s game; each team only got two, and all weekend for that matter, but Lucia was happy to come out on the positive side of special teams.
“We ended up plus each night on special teams and we all know how important that is,” Lucia said.
Bristedt’s third goal came about five minutes into the third period when he took a pass near the top of the left faceoff circle and left a smoke trail behind the puck as he slapped it past Jones. It was his first career hat trick.
Big Ten roundup
No. 18 Wisconsin 4, at Michigan State 3 (OT)
Jake Linhart scored at the 1:34 mark of overtime to give Wisconsin the road sweep at Michigan State and the Badgers’ fifth win in a row. Matt Jurusik made 28 saves for the Badgers in the game. Luke Kunin, Trent Frederic and Cameron Hughes also scored for the Badgers. Rhett Holland, Joe Cox and Brennan Sanford scored for Michigan State. John Lethemon had 24 saves in a losing effort for the Spartans.
No. 11 Ohio State 6, at Michigan 5
Ohio State scored one goal near the end of the second period and twice in the third to erase a two-goal deficit and defeat Michigan. Nick Schilkey scored the game-winning goal with 30 seconds left in the third period. Schilkey also had a goal and an assist earlier in the game. Matt Tomkins replaced Christian Frey in the second period and got the win for Ohio State. Hayden Lavigne took the loss for Michigan. Cooper Marody had a goal and an assist for the Wolverines.