Penn State Upsets No. 6 North Dakota 6-4 In U.S. Hockey Hall Of Fame Game

Penn State (6-1-0) upset No. 6 North Dakota (4-3-0) by a score of 6-4 in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game held in Bridgestone Arena, the home of the NHL’s Nashville Predators.

Clayton Phillips and Connor MacEachern each scored two goals, and Oskar Autio made 28 saves to propel the Nittany Lions to a huge victory.

How It Happened

Head coach Guy Gadowsky didn’t have any surprises in store for Penn State’s starting lineup, going with all veterans as his starters.

Autio was tested with a few shots on goal early in the game, but he turned the pucks away with ease. After a few minutes of back-and-forth play, freshman forward Ryan Kirwan fired Penn State’s first shot on goal that was eventually gloved down by North Dakota goalie Zach Driscoll.

It didn’t take long after that for the Nittnay Lions to strike first, as Tyler Gratton scored off a great pass from Danny Dzhaniyev on an odd-man rush at 4:02 of the first period.

Penn State then took its first penalty of the game, as Clayton Phillips went to the box for hooking at 4:53. North Dakota didn’t have much going on the power play, but freshman Simon Mack took a boarding penalty with four seconds left on Phillips’ penalty, thus sending the Fighting Hawks to a brief 5-on-3 advantage. North Dakota then took its first penalty of the game with 24 seconds left on Mack’s boarding call, thus getting the Nittnay Lions out of a short-handed situation.

Despite getting a few solid chances on the man advantage, the Nittany Lions couldn’t cash in on the power play. They would quickly get another chance, as North Dakota took two penalties in a row to give Penn State a two-minute 5-on-3 advantage. The referees went on to review the boarding call that sent Connor McMenamin into the boards, but the officials stuck with both minor calls.

After 90 seconds of pressure and continuous shots on goal, Clayton Phillipps cashed in on the two-man advantage with his second goal of the season at 12:48 of the first period to put the Nittany Lions up 2-0.

Penn State didn’t slow down after going up two goals, as they kept the chances coming. A few minutes later, freshman forward Carson Dyck was knocked down and a shot from North Dakota in open ice was gloved down by Autio. Ben Schoen followed that up with a tripping penalty at 17:54 of the first period. Autio had to quickly make a stop off the faceoff as North Dakota started the power play pressure immediately. North Dakota’s Judd Caulfield then put the Fighting Hawks on the board, as he buried a rebound given up by Autio at 18:30. Connor McMenamin and Ethan Frisch followed up the goal with coincidental minors for roughing with just over one minute to play in the first period. The first frame ended with Penn State leading North Dakota 2-1 in goal and 13-6 in shots on goal.

The second period started with minimal action through the first four minutes. Riese Gaber then took a penalty for tripping at 4:16, thus sending Penn State to the power play. Connor MacEachern cashed in on the North Dakota penalty with a snipe to the back of the net to give Penn State a 3-1 lead at 5:32 of the second period.

Quickly following the goal, Penn State’s captain Paul DeNaples took a two-minute minor penalty for elbowing. It was reviewed for a potential game misconduct penalty, but the officials kept the penalty at two minutes. The Fighting Hawks answered quickly, cashing in on the power play to cut Penn State’s lead to one goal, once again.

Things didn’t get better for the Nittany Lions, as defenseman Jimmy Dowd Jr. went down on the ice after taking a slapshot to the shoulder, but he eventually returned to the ice. The game started to get chippy as Kenny Johnson took a two-minute penalty for roughing, but North Dakota’s Gavin Hain took a penalty for embellishment.

After a few minutes of back-and-forth play, Clayton Phillips fired a shot from the point that beat Driscoll at 15:47, thus giving the Edina, Minn. native his second goal of the game and Penn State a 4-2 lead.

Not much action followed the goal, but McMenamin took a penalty for tripping at 18:57 to give North Dakota its fifth power play of the game. North Dakota’s Jake Schmaltz fired a shot from the point that beat Autio with ten seconds to play in the second period to cut Penn State’s lead to one goal. The Nittany Lions went into the locker room with a one-goal lead.

Like the first two, the third period started with minimal action through the first few minutes. North Dakota started to put pressure on the Nittany Lions four minutes into the third, but Autio stayed strong in the crease. The team’s then traded a few chances on each side of the ice, but no goals were scored by either squad. The Nittany Lions began to control the game and limit North Dakota’s chances.

Once Penn State clearly took the momentum, Ben Schoen took a high-sticking call at 11:00 of the third period to give North Dakota a chance to tie the game, but the Nittany Lions shut the Fighting Hawks down. North Dakota continued the pressure after its failed power play chance, but Autio kept Penn State’s one-goal lead intact.

The Nittany Lions kept controlling the game, and Connor MacEachern put the nail in the coffin with his second goal of the game at 15:52 of the third period.

North Dakota pulled Zach Driscoll for the extra skater with 2:40 left in the third period. The Fighting Hawks got quickly got the chances they wanted, as Riese Gaber sniped the puck above the shoulder of Autio from the top of the faceoff circle at 18:00 of the third period to cut Penn State’s lead to 5-4.

Zach Driscoll then went off the ice again as the Fighting Hawks tried to tie the game, but the Nittany Lions didn’t let them get anything and even drew a penalty with 47 seconds left in the game. Ben Copeland then cashed in on the empty-net goal with 4.6 seconds left on the clock to put the nail in the coffin, as the game ended with a final score of 6-4.


  • Clayton Phillips was one of the best players on the ice for the Nittany Lions. The Edine, Minn. native scored two goals on two shots on goal, inlcuding one on the power play. The defenseman came into the game already having a solid season, but Phillips demonstrated his ability as a dominant player and leader with his performance against the Fighting Eagles.
  • After only scoring on four of its 21 power play chances, Penn State delivered on the man-advantage tonight, scoring on two of four power plays. Phillips and MacEachern scored the power play goals for Penn State, but both goals came from great play from every player on the ice during the man advantages.
  • On the other side of the special teams, Penn State’s penalty kill wasn’t as good as it has been this season. The Nittany Lions came into the game only alloweing one goas on 28 penalties but gave up three on six opposing power plays. Ultimately, the penalty kill came up clutch when Penn State needed it most by killing of Schoen’s high-sticking penalty at 11:00 of the third period.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State on Friday, November 5. Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m., and the game will be available to stream on BTN+.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at [email protected].

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