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Penn State Men’s Hockey Drops Overtime Battle To Notre Dame 3-2

Penn State men’s hockey (9-8-1, 7-8-1 Big Ten) gained a point in the Big Ten standings in a 3-2 overtime loss to Notre Dame (8-9-1, 6-7-1 Big Ten) on Friday night.

Tyler Gratton and Sam Sternschein scored the Nittany Lions’ goals on the night while Oskar Autio made 23 saves in the overtime loss.

Spencer Stastney played hero for the Irish, scoring the overtime winner. Alex Steeves and Colin Theisen also scored for the Irish. Dylan St. Cyr played great for Notre Dame again, making 33 saves in the win.

How It Happened

The Fighting Irish started the game off strong, keeping the puck in the Nittany Lions’ offensive zone for the first couple shifts of the period. The pace of the game was similar to that of the previous night with very few stoppages occurring in the opening frame. Notre Dame struggled with the puck in the neutral zone and in its own defensive zone, as Penn State’s forecheck was relentless.

The Nittany Lions would be the first on the board in the game. Gratton caught the Irish sleeping on the forecheck, forced a turnover in front of the Irish net, and buried a shot past St. Cyr for his first goal of the season and the 1-0 lead at the 14:28 mark of the first period. That would be the only notable action of the period as Penn State went into the first intermission up 1-0. It also led in shots 9-7.

It would take Notre Dame just over four minutes into the second frame to find the tying goal. A defensive breakdown from Penn State saw the puck fall to Steeves who was wide open in front of Autio. Despite Autio making a nice save on the first attempt, Notre Dame’s leading goalscorer swatted the rebound out of the air and into the back of the net to tie the game at one at the 4:06 mark of the second period.

Steeves’ goal was a big moment for Notre Dame as the ice began to tilt in its favor. The momentum would continue for the Irish when Clayton Phillips was sent to the box for tripping at the 9:46 mark of the period. The Nittany Lions’ penalty kill did a good job of limiting shots on goals and was able to kill off the penalty with no real threat. 

The Nittany Lions would see a player leave the game for the second straight night with an injury. Jimmy Dowd Jr. was hit high and hard behind the Irish net and stayed down. He was helped off the ice after receiving medical attention and did return to the game shortly after. That would be the only notable action of the period as both teams had one goal to their names entering the second intermission. Penn State led in shots 19-16.

It wouldn’t take long for the Nittany Lions to find the go-ahead goal to start the third. Tyler Paquette’s weird-angled shot rebounded off St. Cyr and found a wide-open Sternschein who put the puck past St. Cyr for the 2-1 lead only 1:42 into the final frame. It was the second goal of the game to come from Penn State’s bottom six.

Only a few minutes later, Penn State thought it had another goal after a goalmouth scramble, but St. Cyr appeared to make the save on his back. The no-goal was not reviewed. As the final media timeout approached, Autio stepped up big again for Penn State making a couple of big saves to help weather a Notre Dame offensive barrage.

Notre Dame would eventually find a way past Autio and the tying goal. Theisen made a great play, going coast to coast and finish a beautiful move past Autio to tie the game at two at the 11:34 mark of the third period. It was a deserving goal for Notre Dame, who dominated the few minutes leading up to the goal. The third period would end 2-2, and the two squads were headed to overtime for the second consecutive night.

The overtime period was chaotic and end-to-end. With 54 seconds left in the extra period, Stastney played hero for Notre Dame, putting a breakaway past Autio for the 3-2 overtime winner. Despite the loss, Penn State outshot the Irish 35-26 in the game.

Takeaways

  • The injuries to Jared Westcott and Aarne Talvitie meant Penn State’s depth would be tested in this game. Players like Adam Pilewicz, Tyler Paquette, and Gratton stepped up to the plate offensively and defensively. Penn State’s third line of Bobby Hampton, Sam Sternschein, and Paquette was arguably the team’s best line in the game. Christian Sarlo also played a key role in overtime in the face-off dot and defensively. The ability to roll four lines out effectively in a game makes life easier for Gadowsky and make the Nittany Lions a better hockey team.
  • Especially in the opening stages of the game, Penn State was lethal on the forecheck and defensively in the neutral zone. The Nittany Lions’ full ice defensive approach suffocated the Irish like an anaconda. Once the Irish began to dump pucks in deep rather than skating their way into the offensive zone, it had more success. The effort from Penn State did yield results, most notably in the form of Gratton’s first-period goal.
  • That one hurt. Penn State played a great first period then tailed off. Notre Dame is a low-scoring team and while three goals isn’t a lot, it’s hard to feel like Penn State didn’t let the game slip away from it. It was another entertaining hockey game from both teams, but it will leave a sour taste in the mouth of the Nittany Lions.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will not play next week as originally scheduled after Michigan athletics paused activities for two weeks due to the coronavirus.

Penn State will next hit the ice on February 12 against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Pegula Ice Arena. Broadcast location and puck drop are still yet to be determined.

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About the Author

Connor Donohue

Connor is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. He hails from the great state of New Jersey and is proud of it. Lover of the greatest city in the world, New York City, he strongly dislikes the city of Philadelphia and will not hesitate to tell you that. He's also been cursed as a Penn State fan since birth. If you want to call him a bum or maybe go out on a date with him, follow him on twitter @ConnorDonohue00 or email him at [email protected]

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