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No. 8 Penn State Hockey Plays To 3-3 Tie, Drops Shootout Against Notre Dame

No. 8 Penn State hockey (17-8-2, 9-6-2 Big Ten) opened its series against Notre Dame (11-11-5, 6-7-4-3 Big Ten) with a 3-3 tie and shootout loss on Friday night at Pegula Ice Arena.

Notre Dame’s Michael Graham tied the game with 1:49 to play in regulation, and the Fighting Irish picked up the extra point in the Big Ten’s standings thanks to a Cam Burke shootout goal. The two teams played a seven-round shootout before Burke buried the winner.

Nikita Pavlychev, Sam Sternschein, and Tyler Gratton scored for the Nittany Lions, and Peyton Jones made 30 saves in the tie. Despite dropping the shootout, Penn State now sits alone on top of the Big Ten’s standings with 29 points as things stand right now.

How It Happened

Notre Dame opened the scoring through a Mike O’Leary tap-in. Defensemen Mason Snell and Alex Stevens were bought caught below their own goal line, and Colin Thiesen found O’Leary wide open in the crease for a tap-in to put Notre Dame up a goal with 15:29 to play in the first period.

Nikita Pavlychev squared things at 1-1 with 5:55 to play with a floater on net that had eyes. The senior’s shot fluttered over a screened Cale Morris’ right shoulder and into the top corner of the goal off an assist by Connor McMenamin, who recorded a point in his fourth consecutive appearance.

The first period ended with a 1-1 deadlock, but not before a pair of grade-A chances for Penn State went begging. Evan Barratt was stonewalled by Morris on a 2-on-1 one-timer before Max Sauvé hit the crossbar with a backhander on a 2-on-1 of his own.

Penn State took its first lead of the evening a little more than five minutes into the second period. Sam Sternschein tapped in a nifty little feed across the crease from Connor MacEachern to give the Nittany Lions a 2-1 advantage. Kris Myllari, who softly guided the puck towards goal from the point before MacEachern corralled it, recorded the secondary assist on Sternschein’s team-leading 12th of the year.

Friday night’s back-and-forth continued when Matt Hellickson tied the game with 12:44 to play in the second period. The defenseman collected a rebound at the point and wired a wrist shot over Peyton Jones right shoulder to even the game back up and provide a nice response to Penn State’s big push following Sternschein’s tally.

The second period remained frenetic and fast-paced, as evidenced by Pierce Crawford and Tyler Gratton’s exchange of breakaways midway through the period that were denied by Peyton Jones and Cale Morris, respectively. Alas, the second period ended with the teams still deadlocked — this time at 2-2 — and with shots on goal reading 28-20 in favor of Penn State.

Guy Gadowsky couldn’t have asked for a better start to the third period when Tyler Gratton tipped home an Alex Stevens wrist shot to give Penn State a 3-2 lead. Gratton’s third of the year was assisted by the junior defenseman and Connor McMenamin.

Notre Dame couldn’t really get much going in the third period until 3:57 remained. The puck wound up in the back of Peyton Jones’ goal, but the referees blew an early whistle before Notre Dame’s forward crashed into Jones, which propelled the puck into the net. The Irish challenged the call on the ice of “no goal” to no avail.

The Fighting Irish tied the game at 3-3 after a crazy bounce in front of the net. Notre Dame managed to dig the puck out of the corner before it somehow found a way to slide in past Peyton Jones. Michael Graham was the last to touch the puck as he laid on the ice in front of Jones’ goal. The game went to overtime after Graham’s fourth of the year.

Friday’s game went down as a tie in the national standings after five scoreless minutes of 5-on-5 overtime, but not before Nate Sucese clanked the iron with a golden chance to win the game.

Five minutes of 3-on-3 overtime also ended without a goal, so the two teams decided this game in the shootout. Peyton Jones stopped Notre Dame’s first six attempts before Cam Burke buried the winner five-hole to end this game. Cale Morris stopped all seven of Penn State’s shootout tries.

Takeaways

  • 3-on-3 overtime: catch the fever.
  • Plenty of Penn State’s players talked about how the rest of this season is “playoff hockey,” and it’s safe to say Friday’s game lived up to that billing. The contest was fast-paced, intense, and really enthralling to watch. The Nittany Lions and Fighting Irish played like a pair of teams fighting for their lives in an incredibly well-played match.
  • Freshman forward Connor McMenamin had a notable jump of confidence in his step throughout the game. He notched two assists — including the lone assist on Nikita Pavlychev’s first-period tally — to extend his personal point streak to four games.
  • Aside from the final four-or-so minutes, Penn State really took control of the flow of play after Tyler Gratton’s early third-period goal, which is a very welcome sight for Nittany Lion fans. The team didn’t sit back and invite Notre Dame pressure, instead opting to push the pace and sustain lots of possession by Cale Morris’ goal.

What’s Next?

Penn State and Notre Dame will wrap up their weekend set at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The Nittany Lions will wear their one-off “White Rush” uniforms, which are designed based on Penn State football’s road whites, in the game.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: michael.p.mandarino@gmail.com

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