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No. 6 Penn State Men’s Hockey Beats Notre Dame 3-2 To Snap Losing Streak

No. 6 Penn State men’s hockey (18-7-1-, 8-7-1 Big Ten) defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-12-2, 6-8-2 Big Ten) 3-2 Saturday night in its annual “Wear White” game to avoid the sweep and end its three-game losing streak.

Connor MacEachern and Christian Sarlo scored the tying and go-ahead goals, respectively, to lead the Nittany Lions past the Fighting Irish in what was a record-setting night at Pegula Ice Arena in terms of attendance.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions and goaltender Liam Souliere returned to the ice for the Wear White game less than 24 hours after a disappointing 2-1 loss to the unranked Fighting Irish. After a dominant 52-save performance in game one on Friday night, senior Ryan Bischel got the start again in net for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame got the game’s first power play at the 4:48 mark of the first period when forward Tyler Paquette was called for tripping in the neutral zone. The Fighting Irish scored 40 seconds into the power play on a one-timer from the left circle by senior Trevor Janicke. The goal was Janicke’s eighth of the season and was assisted by center Jackson Pierson and defenseman Drew Bavaro.

Just as the Nittany Lions were gaining some momentum in the offensive zone, senior Tyler Gratton was sent to the box for two minutes due to a questionable interference call. This time Penn State would be able to kill the penalty to keep Notre Dame’s lead at one.

Penn State would get its first opportunity on the power play with just 5:46 remaining in the first period. Janicke was sent to the box for kneeing forward Connor MacEachern. It was the second kneeing penalty in the first 15 minutes of the game. The Nittany Lions’ struggles on the power play continued as the Fighting Irish killed the penalty with ease. With just 14 seconds remaining on the man advantage, Danny Dzhaniyev and Michael Mastrodomenico were both given two-minute penalties for roughing.

The first period would come to an end with Notre Dame leading 1-0 despite being outshot 15-12. Penn State amped up the pressure in the offensive zone toward the end of the first period but was unable to beat Bischel.

Ashton Calder had a high-quality scoring chance in the opening moments of the second period but was denied by Bischel on the breakaway.

The Nittany Lions finally beat Bischel when defenseman Simon Mack found the back of the net for his third goal of the season off a beautiful pass from Chase McLane. Sophomore Dylan Lugris also registered an assist on the play.

Less than a minute after Penn State tied the game, it would have to go on the penalty kill, as Chase McLane was called for tripping in the defensive zone. Notre Dame scored on an earlier power play opportunity for its first and only goal up until this point of the game.

Penn State killed the penalty but Notre Dame scored a go-ahead goal in the immediate seconds following the expiration of the power play time. Chayse Primeau beat Souliere for his sixth goal of the season to give the Fighting Irish a 2-1 lead in the early moments of the second period.

Christian Sarlo had a great opportunity to score from in close right off of an offensive zone faceoff but was tripped up on the play by a Notre Dame defenseman. No penalty was called on the play, causing Pegula to voice their displeasure toward the officials.

With just under two minutes remaining in the second period, MacEachern fired a beautiful snapshot over Bischel’s glove to tie the game at two. The goal was MacEachern’s ninth of the season and was assisted by forward Connor McMenamin.

The second period would end with the game tied at two, setting up a very important third and final period. Penn State dominated in shots through the first 40 minutes, outshooting Notre Dame 33-19.

After a very back-and-forth first ten minutes of the period, defenseman Carter Schade was sent to the box after getting called for an obvious trip. The best scoring opportunity on the Notre Dame power play actually came from Penn State. Tyler Gratton picked up a loose puck near the blue line and skated in on Bischel before being stripped of the puck by a defenseman near the crease. Penn State killed the penalty with ease.

Penn State was the better team in the third period on Saturday night, and it was rewarded with just over five minutes to go when Sarlo scored his sixth goal of the season to give the Nittany Lions the lead for the first time in the game.

Notre Dame pulled their goalie with just over a minute to go but were unable to beat Souliere to even the game. Penn State held on to get a big 3-2 win.

Takeaways

  • Notre Dame goaltender Ryan Bischel was excellent for a second straight night. The senior allowed just three goals on 45 shots just one day after making 52 saves en route to a series-opening win for the Fighting Irish. While Bischel was not as dominant as he was on Friday night, the Minnesota native was very solid for Notre Dame despite the loss.
  • Penn State goaltender Liam Souliere was just as dominant, if not better, on Saturday night. The Ontario native allowed just two goals on 31 shots to earn his 16th win of the season. The junior made some key saves in several key situations to lead Penn State to a much-needed win.
  • Special teams played a role Saturday night. Penn State struggled again with the man advantage, while Notre Dame scored once on the power play and scored again just seconds after the expiration of power play time. There were also a few calls in this game (or lack thereof) that played a bigger role in terms of special teams.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will return to the ice for a two-game road series beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, January 27, against the Michigan Wolverines.

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About the Author

Devon Craley

Devon is a junior studying sports journalism. He has the genuine misfortune of being a Philadelphia sports fan...IYKYK. Send your hot takes and preferably your freezing cold takes on Twitter to @devon3134. Devon is also your friendly, neighborhood State College movie nerd.

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