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Notre Dame, Penn State split shootout wins

| Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Meghan Lange | The Observer
Irish forward Justin Janicke celebrates a goal during Notre Dame’s game 3 loss against the Michigan State Spartans in the 2023 Big Ten Tournament.

Notre Dame hockey opened its Big Ten schedule this weekend in State College, Pennsylvania. In a tightly contested two-game series, the Irish and the No. 17 Penn State Nittany Lions each skated away with a shootout victory.

Saturday: Notre Dame 3, Penn State 3 (Notre Dame wins shootout 1-0)

The first game of the series saw Notre Dame contain Penn State’s typically high shot volume, limiting the Nittany Lions to just 31 shots. Irish graduate student netminder Ryan Bischel made 28 stops, as well as three more in the shootout, en route to the victory.

Despite the strong defensive play, the Irish still found themselves down a goal with under 10 minutes to play in the game. Freshman forward Maddox Fleming proved to be the savior, snapping home a wrist shot from the near circle that beat Penn State sophomore netminder Noah Grannan glove side high. Grannan made 26 saves on 29 Irish shots in his only start of the weekend.

The game-tying goal came on a 5-on-3 power play for the Irish. Two penalties were whistled against Penn State on the same faceoff, as Reese Laubach was penalized for cross-checking and Chase McLane for a faceoff violation. The Nittany Lions got themselves in penalty trouble frequently over the course of the night, committing nine penalties that resulted in seven Irish power plays. 

Notre Dame even had the opportunity to win the game on the power play in overtime, with Penn State’s Xander Lamppa in the penalty box for boarding. The Irish could not sneak a fourth past Grannan, though, sending the game to a shootout for the first time this season.

Freshman forward Cole Knuble, still without a goal in regulation for the Irish, broke through for the only score in the shootout. Knuble put the Irish ahead in the third round, starting from the left side and scooping a wrist shot over the shoulder of Grannan. Bischel sprawled out to make the ensuing save on Dylan Lugris, locking up the win for the Irish. 

Notre Dame started the game as strong as they finished, opening the scoring early. Freshman forward Brennan Ali notched his second career goal just over 90 seconds into the game, following up in the slot on a blocked shot from sophomore defenseman Michael Mastrodomenico. 

The 1-0 Notre Dame lead held up for most of the period until Penn State junior forward Danny Dzhaniyev tied the game at 17:50 of the first. Dzhaniyev tipped graduate transfer defenseman Tanner Palocsik’s shot past Bischel from the slot.

The Irish jumped back out in front on their first power-play goal of the night off the tape of graduate student forward Trevor Janicke. Janicke banged home a goal-line centering feed from junior forward Hunter Strand just as a Penn State penalty was expiring.

The Nittany Lions roared back to close the middle frame, though. Goals from Lugris and Lamppa gave Penn State a 3-2 lead heading into the third period.

Lugris scored the game-tying marker on the power play with seven minutes remaining in the period, finishing off an end-wall rebound off of another Palocsik shot. Lamppa put the Nittany Lions out in front with a beautiful goal, taking a pass off the wall from Dzhaniyev and swinging to the front of the net. Lamppa, in close quarters, went right around an outstretched Bischel, tucking the puck behind his right pad.

Sunday: Penn State 2, Notre Dame 2 (Penn State wins shootout 1-0)

In a cruel twist of Saturday’s fate, on Sunday night it was the Irish who conceded a late goal to tie the game before ultimately losing in the shootout.

While the Irish were able to effectively limit Penn State’s shot volume the night prior, in this game the Nittany Lions threw 50 shots at Bischel. Their 46th proved to be the most important of them all, as Lugris cleaned up a loose rebound to even the score at 2-2 with just 35 seconds remaining in the game.

It was a slow comeback for the Nittany Lions, who had plenty of opportunities to be the first team on the board in the game’s opening frame. Notre Dame found themselves on the penalty kill for six of the first period’s 20 minutes but managed to kill off each successive infraction. While the Irish emerged from the period unscathed, the penalty trouble stymied a strong start for Notre Dame and kept them from building momentum.

To make matters worse for Penn State, Notre Dame capitalized where they could not and took the lead in the second period. Freshman forward Danny Nelson and graduate student forward Patrick Moynihan combined to win a puck battle behind the net, setting up senior defenseman Drew Bavaro at the blue line. Bavaro shot through a screen from the high slot and beat Penn State netminder Liam Souliere to put the Irish ahead. Souliere, Penn State’s usual starting goalie, made 29 saves on 31 Irish shots after a night off on Saturday.

Penn State thought they had tied the game less than five minutes later, but an early whistle negated what would have been the equalizer. A strap on Bischel’s mask had been dislodged by the initial shot, spurring the officials to blow the play dead just before Penn State scored on the rebound.

Notre Dame took a 2-0 lead mere moments later when Trevor Janicke finished off a pass from his brother, junior forward Justin Janicke. Trevor Janicke’s goal marked his second of the series and his third in four games since breaking through for his first of the season against Mercyhurst.

Overall, Notre Dame played a strong second period, outshooting Penn State 15-12. Coming out of the locker room for the third period, though, the Nittany Lions planted the seeds of doubt almost immediately.

On a chaotic play, Penn State drew back to within one. Nittany Lions freshman forward Aiden Fink carried the puck across the blue line, traversed across the tops of the circles and snapped a wrist shot that beat Bischel up high for his second of the season. Away from the play, there was an awkward collision between Penn State freshman forward Matt DiMarsico and sophomore defenseman Jarod Crespo, brought on by a check from Notre Dame’s Justin Janicke.

Notre Dame first challenged the play for offside. Perhaps by a mere lack of a proper camera angle, the goal was upheld. Then, Penn State challenged the hit by Justin Janicke for head contact. Quickly, that challenge was also dismissed. Both teams lost their timeout, and there was a notable seven-minute delay from the fiasco.

All remained quiet until the final few moments of the period. Penn State pulled its goalie with less than two minutes remaining and finally notched the game-tying goal in the final minute. Junior forward Ryan Kirwan shot the puck off both posts initially, but Lugris was there to finish on the back door.

In the shootout, Lamppa scored the only goal for Penn State, giving the Nittany Lions a comeback victory of their own.

For the purpose of national rankings, all NCAA hockey contests determined by shootout count as a tie. However, both teams earned an extra point in the Big Ten standings for their respective shootout victories, making it a three-point weekend for each side.

The Irish return home this weekend to continue conference play against No. 19 Ohio State. The puck drops Friday night at 7:30 p.m., followed by a 6 p.m. start on Saturday.

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