No. 9 Penn State Hockey Loses To No. 5 Notre Dame 5-4
No. 9 Penn State men’s hockey (10-5-1, 2-4-1 Big Ten) dropped its fourth consecutive conference game against No. 5 Notre Dame (11-4-1, 5-2-0 Big Ten) in a tightly-contested 5-4 battle Friday night. The Irish were able to ride a strong performance in net by Cale Morris, who made 44 saves on the night.
Paul DeNaples had two assists, and Oskar Autio made his NCAA debut in net for the Nittany Lions. The freshman made 16 saves in relief of Chris Funkey, who made three saves on six shots.
How It Happened
Penn State got off to a quick start when Aarne Talvitie was able to fire a puck over Notre Dame goalie Morris’ blocker on the first shot of the game. The lead didn’t last for long however, as Notre Dame defenseman and fellow New Jersey Devils draft pick Matt Hellickson was able to even things up for the Irish less than three minutes later.
Penn State would dominate the rest of the first period — it outshot Notre Dame 13-2 — but the Nittany Lions were unable to reclaim the lead before the break.
The Irish would make the Nittany Lions pay for not cashing in on their strong first period performance. Notre Dame quickly scored two goals within the first four minutes of the middle stanza to jump out to a 3-1 lead.
The third goal would lead to an early exit for Chris Funkey. The senior was pulled in favor of freshman Oskar Autio as Guy Gadowsky searched for a spark for his team.
Cole Hults deflected a Paul DeNaples shot from the point past Morris to pull Penn State back within one. But once again, the Irish would respond quickly. Notre Dame captain Andrew Peeke would extend the lead back to two just 2:21 before the end of the period.
The Nittany Lions would pepper Cale Morris’ cage with shots to start the period, eventually leading to Denis Smirnov’s fourth goal of the season. The junior from Moscow, Russia swiveled right around a defender, and then beat Morris on the glove side to once again bring Penn State back within one.
Notre Dame quickly responded to a Nittany Lion tally through Matt Steeves, who stuffed the puck past Autio to once again regain its two goal lead. Penn State would once again pull back within one through Nate Sucese’s seventh goal of the season, but that’s as close as the Nittany Lions would get.
- It was a rough night for Chris Funkey in net. The senior allowed three goals on only six shots and was pulled in favor of freshman Oskar Autio. Speaking of Autio…
- The freshman goaltender was rock solid in his NCAA debut. Autio made 16 saves, including a handful of impressive glove saves.
- Paul DeNaples had an active night, providing two assists for the Nittany Lions. Penn State’s main strength this season has been its balanced scoring attack upfront. Tonight the defense was able to chip in with DeNaples’ assists and Hults’ goal.
Penn State and Notre Dame will square off again at 7 p.m. Saturday back at Pegula Ice Arena.
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About the Author
Ryan Field was a sea of white in the Nittany Lions’ week five return to Illinois on Saturday.
Despite struggles with bye weeks in recent years, the Nittany Lions feel the time off this year can be beneficial.
Our writers and photographers drove out to Evanston, Illinois, to capture the sights and sounds of Penn State’s fifth win of the season.