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Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Split At Notre Dame Following 3-0 Loss

by on December 14, 2019 10:14 PM

No. 7 Penn State hockey (13-6-0, 8-4-0 Big Ten) split its series with No. 15 Notre Dame (9-7-2, 5-3-2 Big Ten) following a 3-0 defeat in South Bend on Saturday night.

The Fighting Irish bounced back brilliantly after falling 4-2 in the first game of this weekend’s series, and Guy Gadowsky’s side stumbled into its nearly month-long winter break with a tough defeat. Despite this loss, Penn State will enter its break on top of the Big Ten’s standings. 

Senior goalie Peyton Jones made 20 saves for the Nittany Lions.

How It Happened

Notre Dame’s Max Ellis got Saturday’s goal-scoring started with his first NCAA goal 7:35 into the first period. Jesse Landsell forced a turnover behind the Penn State goal before teeing up Ellis with a perfect pass, which Ellis one-timed past Peyton Jones to give his side a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

The first period ended with the Irish leading on the scoreboard, and they also held a 16-14 advantage in shots after 20 minutes.

Despite outshooting Notre Dame 10-6 throughout the second period, Penn State’s offense couldn’t find a way past star goaltender Cale Morris — at least in a way that the referees determined legal. Paul DeNaples appeared to tie the game at 1-1 midway through the frame, but the goal was ruled out due to goaltender interference.

The Fighting Irish, however, got two more (legal) goals to take a 3-0 advantage into the final 20 minutes of the contest. Alex Steeves potted his second of the series on a one-timer after a nifty feed from defenseman Matt Hellickson set him up in prime scoring position.

Things went from bad to worse for Guy Gadowsky’s program when Graham Slaggart stuffed home a rebound to extend the Notre Dame lead to 3-0 with 4:45 to play in the middle frame. Penn State’s push to overcome the deficit began with a flurry of chances towards the end of the second period, but Morris stood tall and kept the Nittany Lions’ potent offense at bay.

Penn State absolutely dominated the pace and flow of the third period of the game, but — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — Cale Morris stonewalled the Nittany Lions. Morris is one of college hockey’s best goaltenders who’s known for being able to put together huge performances against Penn State.

Although it out-shot Notre Dame 13-1(!!) in the third and final period, Penn State laid a goose egg for the third time this season. Morris was deservedly named the game’s first star thanks to his 37-save shutout.

Takeaways

  • Penn State is clearly capable of scoring goals on Cale Morris — as evidenced by last night’s 4-2 victory and a 9-1 triumph over the Fighting Irish last season. But sometimes, it just seems like Cale Morris flips a switch and tells Guy Gadowsky that his team isn’t allowed to score goals on him. It was just one of those nights for Penn State’s offense, which generated so many high-quality chances on Saturday.
  • Star wing Alex Limoges once again didn’t play for the Nittany Lions for undisclosed reasons. Last night, Adam Pilewicz took his usual spot alongside Evan Barratt and Liam Folkes, but freshman Connor McMenamin filled that role tonight.
  • Despite Saturday’s tough loss, Penn State will enter its month-long winter break on top of the Big Ten’s standings. The team is in prime position to secure home-ice advantage throughout the conference’s tournament. And, more importantly, it’ll have an opportunity to get rested and recharged for the second semester.

What’s Next

Penn State won’t play until the weekend of January 3 and 4, which is when Niagara will make the trek to Hockey Valley for a two-game set at Pegula Ice Arena. Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively, over the first weekend of the new decade.

 



Mikey Mandarino is a staff writer for Onward State.
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