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Notre Dame ends road trip with win, tie at Penn State

| Monday, February 5, 2018

The Notre Dame hockey team fell out of the No. 1 ranking in national polls this week after losses to Wisconsin and Minnesota last week.

The No. 2 Irish (21-5-2, 15-2-1 Big Ten) rebounded well, however, Friday night when they came back from an early 2-0 deficit to defeat No. 17 Penn State, 5-3, at Pegula Ice Arena in State College, Pennsylvania. Saturday, the second game of the series ended in a 2-2 tie, but Notre Dame earned the extra conference standings point by winning in a shootout.

The Irish had their hands full during the first period Friday night, falling behind 2-0 after Penn State goals from junior forwards Alec Marsh and Chase Berger. Between those goals, the Nittany Lions (13-12-5, 6-9-5) appeared to score another one, but the goal was waved off after it was determined the puck was played by a hand pass.

The tide turned after the start of the second period. Four minutes into the second frame, junior forward Andrew Oglevie buried a one-time pass from junior defenseman Dennis Gilbert into the net to cut the deficit to 2-1. Just 2:48 later, a screen by junior forward Joe Wegwerth in front of the Penn State net allowed sophomore defenseman Andrew Peeke to fire a shot past Penn State goaltender Peyton Jones for a power-play goal that tied the score 2-2.

Penn State regained the lead with a goal at 9:01 of the second. With just 2:47 left in the period. Senior forward Bo Brauer took a pass from Wegwerth on a breakout and slid it into an open net to tie the score 3-3.

At 4:21 of the third period, Brauer lit the lamp again when he tapped a feed pass from junior defenseman Bobby Nardella past Jones to give Notre Dame their first lead of the game, 4-3.

The Irish extended the lead when senior forward Dawson Cook put a wrist shot through the five-hole of Jones at 11:58 of the third for a 5-3 advantage. Notre Dame was able to close out Penn State behind the stellar efforts of sophomore goaltender Cale Morris and the defense.

Morris finished the game with 48 saves on 51 shots faced.

On Saturday night, Notre Dame and Penn State skated to a 2-2 tie. The Irish earned the extra conference standings point when they won the shootout 1-0.

Sophomore forward Cal Burke got the Irish on the board first when he deposited a rebound into the Penn State goal to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead at 6:38 of the first period.

Just over a minute later, Burke put the puck on net and junior forward Dylan Malmquist was there to knock in the rebound to make it 2-0 in favor of the Irish.

However, just like the night before, a two-goal lead quickly evaporated.

Penn State scored just before the first period ended, then tied the game at 2-2 two minutes into the second period.

The rest of regulation was a goaltender battle, as both Morris and Jones stood on their heads to keep their respective teams in the game.

In overtime, a penalty on senior defenseman Justin Wade gave Penn State a penalty shot and an opportunity to end the game. Morris made the left pad save on Penn State’s Andrew Sturtz, a junior forward, to keep the game going.

In the shootout, attempts by Oglevie and Malmquist were denied by Jones before Gross buried the puck in the third round to put Notre Dame ahead. Morris denied all three of the shootout shots he faced to put the game away and earn the extra standings point for the Irish. Morris made 55 saves on 57 shots throughout regulation and overtime and added three more during the shootout.

Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson noticed the similarities between the two games played this weekend.

“I thought the games were similar, both teams had two-goal leads,” Jackson said. “One team then elevates, one team gets comfortable and it comes back to bite you and the same thing happened tonight. I’m just grateful our guys recovered in the third and were a little bit better. That’s human nature sometimes when you get a lead, and you think it is going to be easier and it ends up being more challenging.”

Jackson also had high praise for his goaltender.

“[Morris] has been our rock all season, especially against a team like Penn State that shoots from everywhere,” Jackson said. “Rebound control is really important, he played very composed. He’s been the difference for us all season long, and he’s a big reason why we are where we are.”

Notre Dame will be back in action this weekend when they host No. 5 Ohio State in a Big Ten series at Compton Family Ice Arena on Friday and Saturday. The Irish could clinch the conference regular season title with just one win this weekend.

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