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Minnesota Hockey: Gophers Win 100th Season Opener 4-1 over Penn State

A great way to start the season

Sampo Ranta celebrates his goal
Brad Rempel—

The Minnesota Golden Gophers opened their 100th season in school history with a bang defeating the Penn State Nittany Lions 4-1 at 3M Arena at Mariucci. The Gophers got goals from Jonny Sorenson, Scott Reedy, Cullen Monson and Sampo Ranta to get the three points. Minnesota moves to 1-0 while wearing the 100th Anniversary special jerseys on the year.

The first period was a bit of a feeling out period where neither team really opened up an advantage. Minnesota had the best two chances of the period but PSU goalie Oskar Autio made two nice saves to keep it scoreless.

The Gophers struck first in the second period when Jonny Sorenson knocked in a rebound of a Ben Meyers shot past Autio.

The Gophers would make it 2-0 a few minutes later when Scott Reedy scored. it was an ugly goal—one where the puck was loose in front of the net and it took about four wacks before the puck fell right to Reedy who ripped a wrister past Autio.

Penn State would get a goal back when Kevin Wall scored on a nice 2 on 1 break with less than 30 seconds left in the second period. Minnesota had several chances in the PSU end before the Nittany Lions were able to sneak behind the Gopher defense and take advantage of the odd man rush. The second period would end with the Gophers having that 2-1 lead.

Minnesota would strike first in the all important third period with their fourth line. Cullen Monson would score his second career goal when he took a carom off of the end boards and bounced a shot off of Autio and just under his pad and across the goal line. The referee did not signal goal right away but after a review the goal stood and Minnesota took a 3-1 lead.

Minnesota would put the final nail in the coffin with just over nine minutes left in the game when Sampo Ranta would take the puck at neutral ice and sake right past several Nittany Lions and put a gorgeous shot past Autio on a breakaway to put the Gophers up 4-1. The goal was reviewed as Mason Nevers playing his first game for the Gophers had the puck his his forearm and bounce to Ranta. Penn State wanted a hand pass call on the goal and the initial referee call after the review was no goal. However the referee said he misspoke and after about 2 minutes of confusion the goal did count to put Minnesota up 4-1.

Penn State would have one more chance on a power play where they pulled Autio but the Gophers shut down any attempt by the Nittany Lions and would cruise to the 4-1 victory.

Jack LaFontaine was pretty good in net for Minnesota allowing just the one goal and making 26 saves in the win. While he might deserve to come back and play in net again tomorrow for the Gophers I would expect that with the quick turn around Minnesota will go with Jared Moe in net for game two of the series.

Minnesota will go for the first piped in Battle Hymn of the season at 3PM Friday on BTN once again.