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Penn State Men’s Hockey Downs Notre Dame 6-3, Advances In Big Ten Tournament

Penn State mens’ hockey defeated Notre Dame 6-3 Sunday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. The Nittany Lions went down 2-0 early in the game but scored five unanswered goals to pull away and seal the deal.

True freshman Chase McLane and sophomore Connor McMenamin both scored two goals for the Nittany Lions. Christian Sarlo and Tim Doherty also scored for Penn State. Oskar Autio made 33 saves in the win.

How It Happened

The Fighting Irish came out firing, and one minute into the game, Penn State received a bench minor for too many men on the ice, giving Notre Dame an early power play. Notre Dame would take advantage of the man-advantage when Theisen buried a rebound past Autio for the 1-0 lead 2:10 into the game. It would take only another 31 seconds until Lansdell put a backhander past Autio for the 2-0 lead. Three minutes into the game, the Irish lead in shots 8-0 and lead in the game 2-0.

Penn State started to calm down as the period went along as the Nittany Lions grew into the game. Jared Westcott had a golden opportunity eight minutes into the game when he split two Notre Dame defensemen, but St. Cyr was equal to it. The following faceoff resulted in another golden chance for the Nittany Lions, but they couldn’t convert. Then, a few plays later, Alex Limoges took a feed from Doherty and roofed a backhander past St. Cyr, but it was ruled Limoges was offsides, and the goal didn’t count.

Both teams then started to trade chances, with Kevin Wall missing the net on a breakaway then Autio stonewalling Landon Slaggert the other way. With one minute to go in the period, Sarlo sniped a shot that went off the crossbar. After review, it was determined the puck squeaked in under the crossbar, hit the net, and Penn State had cut the lead to 2-1. The momentum was in Penn State’s favor as Notre Dame went into the first intermission up 2-1. Both teams were tied in shots with 11.

As the second period started, both teams continued to go back and forth. Just over three minutes into the period, Wall put a pass through his legs that found McMenamin, who fired a shot five-hole on St. Cyr to tie the game 2-2. The momentum was firmly in Penn State’s favor with St. Cyr looking uncomfortable in the Notre Dame net.

Notre Dame would catch a break seven minutes into the frame when Kenny Johnson was called for a roughing penalty, giving Notre Dame its second power play of the game. Autio made some good saves, and the Nittany Lions were able to kill off the man advantage.

Three minutes later, it would be the Wall to McMenamin connection again. Wall found McMenamin behind the Notre Dame defense, who went forehand to the backhand and slipped a shot past St. Cyr to give the Nittany Lions the 3-2 lead. After a horrendous start, the Nittany Lions had full control of the game.

The Nittany Lions continued to pour in on. Sam Sternschien was able to take the puck off a Notre Dame defensemen but St. Cyr made a great save. Following the save, Grant Silianoff was called for tripping and Penn State had its first power play of the game. The second period Penn State onslaught continued as Limoges found Doherty wide open in front of the net and e chipped it past St. Cyr to make it 4-2 Penn State.

With 39 seconds left in the period, Nick Leivermann was called for interference and Penn State had its second power play of the game. That would be the final action of the period as a three-goal outburst from the Nittany Lions had them up 4-2 after two. The Irish had the shot advantage 27-26.

The Nittany Lions started the final frame with a power play for the first 1:21 seconds but had nothing cooking as Notre Dame killed it off. As the period continued on, the Irish started to play desperately with their season on the line. Still, Penn State continued to put any puck it could on the net, causing St. Cyr a lot of issues.

Penn State’s high volume of chances would pay off again. After a scramble in front, McLane put the puck past St. Cyr to extend the Nittany Lions’ lead to 5-2. After going down 2-0 in the first three minutes of the game, Penn State scored five unanswered goals.

The Fighting Irish would have a lifeline to get back into the game when Westcott was called for a very controversial slashing penalty with 8:50 left in the period. The Irish opted to pull the goalie to make it a 6-on-4 advantage, and Rolston put it back door on Autio to make it a 5-3 game.

Immediately after, Lansdell was sent to the box for a high hit on Jimmy Dowd Jr. that was reviewed for a major penalty. It wasn’t a major but it was still a two-minute charging call on Lansdell, sending Penn State to the power play. The Nittany Lions didn’t score, but the power play killed time and left only 4:50 on the clock.

St. Cyr was pulled for the extra attacked with 3:21 left in the game. The Irish made the Nittany Lions sweet but Penn State stood firm. An empty-netter by McLane would seal the deal for the Nittany Lions, making it 6-3 with 31 seconds left in the game.

Key Takeaways

  • Big games require big players to step up, and that’s what Penn State got in this one. Penn State’s top two lines showed up in this game and were the determining factor for the Nittany Lions. The duos of Tim Doherty-Alex Limoges and Kevin Wall-Connor McMenamin were dynamic and put the puck in the back of the net for the Nittany Lions. Christian Sarlo also had a goal alongside Limoges and Doherty. If the Nittany Lions want to continue to advance in the post-season, this trend needs to continue.
  • Both goalies started to trend in opposite directions as the game continued. Autio began the game poorly, allowing two goals in the first three minutes, while St. Cyr looked like he would be an issue for Penn State again. As the game continued on, Autio started to settle in while St. Cyr looked shaken after some early scary moments. Once Penn State started to put the puck in the net, St. Cyr could never mentally recover. Autio’s upward trend and St. Cyr’s downward trend both played a massive factor in this game.
  • It felt like deja vu when Penn State went down 2-0 early and Limoges’ goal was called back for offsides. It would’ve been easy to count out the Nittany Lions, who were shellacked by Notre Dame last weekend. Credit to Gadowsky and the leadership of Penn State to make sure the Nittany Lions didn’t keep their heads down. Mental fortitude is what you need to advance in the postseason and Penn State showed that today.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions advance to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals to face the first-seeded Wisconsin Badgers. The game will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 15. You can catch the highly anticipated matchup on the Big Ten Network.

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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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