Penn State Hockey Splits Series, Defeats Notre Dame 5-3
With an unfortunate loss Friday night against Notre Dame, Penn State hockey looked to split the series and earn its first home win of the season on Saturday. The Nittany Lions did just that, winning 5-3 in front of a loud crowd and rowdy Roar Zone.
Physical, fast hockey was the theme throughout the duration of the series, and yesterday’s game was no exception. The Nittany Lions mustered a lot more vigor this time around, especially in their offensive front and penalty killing, and these two factors managed to help Penn State shut down a visibly battered Irish team.
How It Happened
Notre Dame scored early at the 1:58 minute mark, giving Ben Ostlie his first goal of the season. Penn State had a heavy presence in front of Notre Dame’s net, dominating the Irish in shots on goal 17-9. Tenacious offensive production lead to a follow up goal by Penn State’s David Thompson, his first of the 2015-16 season. Penn State also did a fantastic job in its defensive zone, keeping the Irish from landing a shot on goal for long periods of time. This persistent defensive pressure was a total 180 from what we saw Friday night. Eamon McAdam showcased his skill on the glove-side, making big saves and frustrating sluggish offensive rushes by the Irish. He tallied 16 saves in just the first period. The Nittany Lions closed out the first period with momentum swinging solidly in their favor.
The second period, like Friday night’s game, was a frenzy of offensive entertainment. Penn State’s pressure continued right out of the gate, showing no sign of backing down. McAdam stayed consistent in his saves, knocking down almost every puck flung in his direction. Notre Dame looked like a completely different team from Friday’s game at first. The Irish struggled to put any offensive play together that wasn’t ultimately shut down by Penn State’s defensive core. But that changed as the period went on. The Fighting Irish’s Dylan Malmquist capitalized on a costly penalty by the Nittany Lions, giving his team a go-ahead goal at the 7:38 minute mark. Notre Dame, however, had issues of its own with the penalty box, falling short two men halfway through the second period and allowing Penn State’s Chase Berger to score a tying power play goal. With a 2-2 score, game play sped up, and the Nittany Lions took advantage of it, showing off their speed and netting two goals within 40 seconds of each other. Penn State led 4-2, and Pegula was rocking. But considering the call-and-answer trend of the series, it wasn’t a surprise when Notre Dame responded with a ricochet shot off of Mario Lucia, bringing the Irish back within one. With the score at 4-3, game play steadied at a remarkably fast pace. Penn State was able to kill a slashing penalty on Kenny Brooks, which caused fans to erupt. With momentum seemingly still in the Nittany Lions favor, the second period came to an exciting close.
Defense was the dominant theme as the third period commenced. Both teams tightened up in their own zones and game play was very conservative. But as soon as the Nittany Lions killed another penalty, their tenacious offense started back up again, pressuring Notre Dame goalie Cal Petersen. The only scoring play came in the final minute of the game as Curtis Loik buried an empty-netter, lifting the Lions to a 5-3 final.
Player Of The Game
Junior goalie Eamon McAdam played flawlessly. Getting the start from Guy Gadowski, McAdam was dense and compact between the pipes. He even agreed with reporters in his post-game conference, saying “I think I had a pretty solid game. I think the team played phenomenal, and I think I made some pretty big saves.” With 30 saves to his credit, McAdam definitely has evidence to back his confidence.
- Penn State plays phenomenally well when they control the game speed: fast. When the Nittany Lions find their rhythm, they’re basically impossible to stop.
- The Nittany Lions have been excellent in penalty killing so far. Against the Fighting Irish yesterday, Penn State was three for three on special teams, raising its season penalty kills to six for nine.
- Penn State’s freshmen are doing an incredible job so far. It only makes sense that they will continue to grow, improve, and be vital for future wins as they begin to find their rightful place within the team.
The Nittany Lions will be back in Pegula Ice Arena Friday, October 23 to take on AIC. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.