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Clean sweep: Close, Gophers shut out Penn State again

Penn State entered this weekend's Big Ten hockey series against the Gophers averaging a robust 39.6 shots on goal, which had helped the Nittany Lions score 3.6 goals per game.

On Saturday afternoon, Gophers goalie Justen Close and his teammates made sure Penn State's volume shooters left 3M Arena at Mariucci with nothing.

Close made 30 saves for his second consecutive shutout as the Gophers beat Penn State 3-0 for a sweep of the series in front of 10,560. Close's fourth shutout of the season gave him 13 for his career, which ties Adam Wilcox and Kellen Briggs for the program record.

Aaron Huglen scored two goals in the second period, waking Minnesota (18-7-5, 11-5-4 Big Ten) from a sluggish first period and keying the Gophers' ninth win in their past 11 games. Mason Nevers added a third-period goal.

Goalie Liam Souliere made 30 saves for Penn State (12-13-3, 4-11-3), which had been shut out only this season before arriving in Minneapolis.

The series drew a total attendance of 21,310, the most in Mariucci history.

Penn State started with much more energy than it did in Minnesota's 3-0 win on Friday, forcing Close to make four saves in the first 1:05. The Gophers didn't get the puck out of their zone until 2 minutes had expired, and their first shot on goal came at 5:09.

Minnesota got the game's first power play at 12:53 when Nittany Lions left winger Dane Dowiak was called for tripping. Both goalies traded big saves, with Souliere robbing Oliver Moore in the doorstep and Close denying Jacques Bouquot on a shorthanded breakaway. Penn State killed the penalty.

The Gophers took a 1-0 lead 1:12 into the second period when Huglen pounced on a Penn State turnover at center ice and sped into the Nittany Lions zone on a two-on-one rush with Brody Lamb. Huglen sent a cross-ice pass to Lamb, who fired it back to Huglen for an easy goal as Souliere arrived late.

Penn State got its first power play at 2:19 of the second when Gophers forward Bryce Brodzinski was whistled for cross-checking. Minnesota killed the penalty as Close made two saves.

The Gophers took possession of the puck in the closing moments of the power play, and Brodzinski exited the box to join Huglen and Rhett Pitlick on a three-on-one rush. Brodzinski passed the puck to Pitlick, who fed Huglen cross-ice for a blast that beat Souliere for a 2-0 lead at 4:34.

Penn State had a couple of good looks late in the second, but Dylan Lurgis hit the post at 15:08 and Close made a save on Danny Dzhaniyev at 19:01.

Brodzinski went to the penalty box again at 9:04 of the third on a hooking call, but again the Gophers killed the penalty.

Nevers stretched the lead to 3-0 at 14:54 of the third when he stole the puck at the blue line, lost it, got it back and beat Souliere in tight.

Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky pulled Souliere for an extra attacker with 3 minutes left. Huglen hit the post with a shot from the Minnesota zone with 1:06 to play, just missing a hat trick.