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Irish fall to Nittany Lions, split road series with Bulldogs

| Tuesday, October 25, 2016

No. 7 Notre Dame finished its fall break aria on a sour note Saturday night as Penn State sophomore forward Andrew Sturtz buried the overtime winner to upset the Irish at Compton Family Ice Arena.

Sturtz’s tally just 1:20 into overtime capped a four-game stretch that saw Notre Dame (3-2-1) move as high as third in the national rankings after it split a weekend series on the road against No. 2 Minnesota Duluth but then failed to lead the the No. 19 Nittany Lions (3-1-1) at any point Friday and Saturday night on home ice.

Irish junior forward Anders Bjork gets set to shoot in Notre Dame's 3-2 overtime loss to Penn State on Saturday at Compton Family Ice Arena.Michael Yu | The Observer
Irish junior forward Anders Bjork gets set to shoot in Notre Dame’s 3-2 overtime loss to Penn State on Saturday at Compton Family Ice Arena.

Penn State took 1-0 and 2-1 leads Saturday night, but Irish sophomore forward Joe Wegwerth pulled the game even each time. The Florida Panthers’ prospect notched his first and second goals of the season to double the total from his freshman campaign already, but a late third-period penalty for too many men on ice carried into the start of overtime and then a bad shift change led to Sturtz’s rebound dagger.

Penn State also held 1-0 and 3-1 leads Friday night, but the Irish climbed back into that game to force overtime as well. Irish junior forward Jake Evans drew the score even at a goal apiece with his first goal of the season while the Irish were shorthanded in the first period.

The Nittany Lions pushed their lead to two with a pair of second-period goals, but Irish sophomore forward Andrew Oglevie brought the Irish back within one just 39 seconds later. Junior defenseman Jordan Gross tied the game with more than seven minutes remaining in the third to send the teams to what turned out to be a scoreless extra session.

Notre Dame finished 0-for-9 on the power play Friday night. Penn State scored once on its seven opportunities but also allowed Evans’ shorthanded marker.

Both of Wegwerth’s goals in Saturday’s loss came on Notre Dame’s six opportunities with the man advantage. The Nittany Lions finished 0-for-5 on the power play, but Sturtz’s overtime tally came just seconds after the too-many-men penalty expired and as a tired Irish penalty-kill unit tried to get off the ice.

Saturday night’s upset over then-No. 3 Notre Dame was a landmark victory for the Nittany Lions, the Irish being the highest-ranked team Penn State has beaten in its history since making the jump to Division I before the 2012-2013 season. The Irish and Nittany Lions will also become conference foes next season when Notre Dame hockey joins the Big Ten.

After Minnesota Duluth (3-1-2) escaped with a 4-3 victory to open that series Oct. 14, the Irish used a pair of third-period goals to breakout for a 3-1 win over the Bulldogs the following night. Junior defenseman Jordan Gross blasted home the game-winning goal just 5:01 into the final period and then sophomore forward Dylan Malmquist padded the Irish lead 55 seconds later with his third tally of the season.

Oglevie netted his team’s first goal both nights and also added an assist during a wild first period in Notre Dame’s loss Friday. The Irish and Bulldogs split six goals over an 11-minute stretch before the action calmed down after the first intermission. Duluth sophomore forward Adam Johnson finished the scoring just over six minutes into the second period to nab his first game-winning goal of the season.

Junior forward Anders Bjork buried his team-leading fifth goal of the season for the Irish on Friday night while freshman forward Cam Morrison also scored his first career collegiate goal.

The Irish combined to score three power play goals on nine opportunities over the weekend while holding Duluth to just a 1-for-10 effort over the series.

Notre Dame now faces a quick turnaround as it welcomes Hockey East foe Connecticut to Compton Family Ice Arena on Thursday and Friday instead of the usual Friday-Saturday schedule. Puck drop for both nights is scheduled for 7:35 p.m.

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