Men's College Hockey: Shibrowski, Serratore heroes on senior night
MINNEAPOLIS — Saturday was Senior Night at Mariucci Arena in more ways than one. Not only was it the final home game for five Golden Gopher players, it was those seniors who ultimately delivered performances that sparked a 2-1 victory for Minnesota over Penn State.
Michael Shibrowski, who started in net for the second time this season, stopped 26 shots for a new career high and kept the Gophers in a position to win throughout the game. At the other end of the rink, fellow senior Tom Serratore notched the game-winning tally late in the third period.
With a win in the final game at Mariucci Arena this season, the Gophers improved to 15-1-3 at the venue this season - one loss at Mariucci Arena is the fewest in a season in the facility’s 20-year history.
Both teams came out hitting hard in the game’s opening minutes, but neither could muster much for scoring opportunities until about five minutes in, when Hudson Fasching found Sam Warning in the slot for a strong wrist shot which Penn State goaltender PJ Musico turned away. The rebound led to a flurry of sticks and bodies in front of the net and several shots for Minnesota, but none lit the lamp.
Justin Holl and Fasching both had good looks at the net in the next few minutes of play, but it was Travis Boyd who got the Gophers on the board at 12:37 with a great individual effort. Driving the net from Musico’s right, Boyd dragged the puck across the front edge of the crease before trying to sneak a backhand inside the far post. Flashing his pad, Musico stuffed the first attempt but Boyd gathered the rebound and elevated it over Musico for the goal, the only tally for either club in the first period.
Minnesota (23-4-5 overall, 12-2-2-0 Big Ten) looked hungry to build its lead early in the second, starting with a chance for Serratore, who took a pass in the slot from Seth Ambroz and unloaded a well-struck one-timer, which Musico stopped. Shortly after, Mike Reilly found the post on a quick shot off a faceoff to Musico’s left.
Shibrowski kept the Gophers in front by making a couple outstanding saves as Penn State turned momentum in its favor near the mid-point of the period, most notably sprawling on his side from post to post to deny a Nittany Lion shot. At 17:15 however, Curtis Loik corralled a long pass off the boards just inside the Minnesota blue line. Breaking in free on Shibrowski’s right, Loik fired a sharp wrist shot top shelf to tie the game at one. Showing poise befitting a senior, Shibrowski quickly shook off that goal and made a crucial blocker save on a quality chance with 30 seconds left in the period to keep the game tied headed to the final frame.
Penn State (6-22-2, 2-13-1-0) continued to control the game’s momentum in the early minutes of the third period, but were unable to add a second goal. With the game still tied at one about eight minutes into the period, Minnesota’s offense got going again. A great pass from Michael Brodzinski set up a one-timer from Taylor Cammarata. Though the opportunity didn’t produce a goal, it shifted the game’s momentum. Minnesota produced several quality chances over the next five minutes, including a blistering slapshot from Jake Parenteau and a pair of heavy shots from Vinnie Lettieri. While Minnesota was unable to beat Musico on those efforts, at the 13:15 mark a shot from Boyd produced a rebound in front, which Serratore gathered in with his back to the net before spinning around and uncorking a wrist shot over Musico’s left shoulder to put the Gophers ahead 2-1 on what would ultimately be the game-winning goal. In the game’s remaining minutes, Minnesota sealed the win by continuing to apply offensive pressure and stymieing Penn State defensively.