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Penn State Hockey: No. 9 Nittany Lions Beat No. 5 Notre Dame 9-1

by on December 08, 2018 10:25 PM

Alec Marsh smiled ever so slightly when asked if Saturday night's 9-1 win over No. 5 Notre Dame was an exorcism, the Nittany Lions 2-6-2 all-time against the Irish heading into Saturday night, almost all of the games decided late.

"Brandon (Biro) said last night that 'Man we play these guys unbelievably every time and always lose'," Marsh said. "But it's really good to finally break through against them, but end of the day it's a split and we've got two more games coming up against them. I think we're happy that we got the win tonight but we don't think we're done with them by any means."

But for one night, the Nittany Lions and the best offense in the nation had their way with the nation's top defense. There was no third period collapse, no second period lull. If this team plays like it did Saturday for the rest of the season, Penn State might need to start eyeing plans for a Frozen Four trip to Buffalo.

Of course, it's never that easy, nor was Penn State's win Saturday as Notre Dame scored 3:35 into the night to go ahead 1-0 on a quick pass across the crease tapped in past Peyton Jones. For a moment it looked like another evening of defensive lapses.

But then Alex Limoges scored twice in seven minutes, the first short handed, the second a rebound pounded into the open net. Kevin Kerr added another not long after. The Irish managed nine shots on goal, but Jones was there for all of them after that early tally.

In turn the crowd rose to its feet as the first period horn sounded, a buzzing Pegula crowd knowing all too well that a win would go a long way in so many areas for this team. And up 3-1 after 20 minutes it was hard to deny the effort in front of them.

It took just 5:05 into the second period for the crowd to rise again as Penn State went up 4-1 thanks to a Sam Sternschein tap-in. It took just seven more minutes for Marsh to make it 5-1.

After that it was a formality. On paper the box score reads Nikita Pavylchev at 10:59 of the third period.

And then Marsh' second of the night at 16:42.

And then it's Barratt at 18:53 for a four point night.

Nine goals in 60 minutes. For perspective, Notre Dame has allowed four or more goals against the same opponent on back-to-back nights just 10 times since 2006, Penn State has now done it twice.

It's only one win for Penn State and the Nittany Lions have a long road ahead of them to prove that Saturday night's effort on both ends of the ice can be sustained an replicated. But for the first time in a long time, maybe ever in 2018, Penn State looked exactly like the team it can be, and the Nittany Lions were in desperate need of that reminder.

"It certainly helps, we have put together some really good defensive efforts, but we didn't sustain it. And we've had great offensive games as well but not  necessarily coupled that with defense. It's nice to know that it is possible to get both. And that's what we had tonight. When we get both, I think we can be a pretty good team."

Sure looks like it.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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