After being defeated 5-0 by Wisconsin and suffering a close 1-0 overtime loss to Minnesota in back-to-back games last week, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish regained their footing with a 4-1 victory over Minnesota last Saturday night. The Irish hoped to ride the momentum from that win into this weekend when they play the #17 Penn State Nittany Lions in another important Big Ten conference road series.
The losses to Wisconsin and Minnesota were enough to push Notre Dame out of college hockey’s #1 ranking, being overtaken by the 18-2-1 Cornell Big Red.
#2 Notre Dame, however, showed everyone they’re still among the best in college hockey on Friday night, coming back from an early 2-0 deficit to defeat #17 Penn State 5-3 in front of a sellout crowd at Pegula Ice Arena in State College, Pennsylvania.
The frenzied whiteout crowd energized Penn State early. The Nittany Lions jumped right out of the gates, recording the first 15 shots of the game. Cale Morris’ brilliant play was on display early, stopping Penn State’s first 19 shots on goal. After a faceoff in the Notre Dame defensive zone, the puck found Alec Marsh alone in front of the net. Marsh fired a quick shot past Morris to put Penn State up 1-0 at 7:31 of the first period.
Penn State appeared to score another goal shortly after, but was waved off after it was determined the puck was played by a hand pass. However, in a similar goal to the first one they scored, Chase Berger got the puck after a faceoff and ripped it past Morris to put Penn State up 2-0 with 2:42 left in the first period. Penn State outshot Notre Dame 23-16 in the first period.
Despite the rocky start, the next two periods belonged to the Irish.
Four minutes into the second period, Andrew Oglevie buried a one-time pass from Dennis Gilbert into the Penn State net to get Notre Dame on the board and cut Penn State’s lead to 2-1. Cal Burke also got an assist on the play.
A minute and a half later, Penn State’s Kevin Kerr was called for high sticking, giving Notre Dame their first and only power play of the night. With only :33 seconds left on the power play, a Joe Wegwerth screen allowed Andrew Peeke to fire a shot from the point past Jones to tie the score at 2-2. Wegwerth and Malmquist both recorded assists on Peeke’s power-play goal.
The tie was short lived, however. Just two and a half minutes after the equalizing goal, Berger scored his second goal of the night to help Penn State regain the lead at 3-2.
After that, the Pegula crowd was treated to the Bo Brauer show.
With under three minutes left in the second period, a Wegwerth breakout forced the Penn State defenders out of position. Wegwerth’s pass found Brauer, who was trailing alone on the far side of the goal, where the Edina, Minnesota native buried the puck in the open net to tie the game 3-3 with 2:47 left in the second.
A little over four minutes into the third period, Bobby Nardella fed Brauer with a pass from behind the net. Brauer, alone in front of the net, tapped the puck past Jones for his second goal of the game to give Notre Dame their first lead of the night, 4-3 at 4:21 of the third. Brauer had two goals on the season before Friday night.
Dawson Cook extended the Irish lead when he fired a wrist shot near the faceoff circle through Jones’ five hole to give Notre Dame a 5-3 lead with 8:02 left in the third period.
From there, Morris and the defense denied a Penn State comeback attempt, to take the first game of the series and stun the Penn State crowd. Penn State finished with 51 shots on goal, while Notre Dame recorded 37 shots. Morris finished with a total of 48 saves to record his 20th win of the season.
PSU – Alec Marsh (2) at 7:31 in the 1st from Chase Berger (14) and Andrew Sturtz (21)
PSU – Chase Berger (9) at 17:18 in the 1st from Andrew Sturtz (22)
ND – Andrew Oglevie (11) at 4:00 in the 2nd from Dennis Gilbert (5) and Cal Burke (6)
ND – Andrew Peeke (3) on the PP at 6:48 in the 2nd from Dylan Malmquist (7) and Joe Wegwerth (3)
PSU – Chase Berger (10) at 9:01 in the 2nd from Trevor Hamilton (18) and Andrew Sturtz (23)
ND – Bo Brauer (3) at 17:13 in the 2nd from Joe Wegwerth (4) and Matt Hellickson (7)
ND – Bo Brauer (4) at 4:21 in the 3rd from Bobby Nardella (13) and Jack Jenkins (6)
ND – Dawson Cook (6) at 11:58 in the 3rd from Mike O'Leary (5) and Bobby Nardella (14)
ND – Cale Morris stopped 48 of 51 shots, improves to 20-3-0
PSU – Peyton Jones stopped 32 of 37 shots, falls to 12-10-3
PSU – Kevin Kerr, 2 for high sticking at 5:25 in the 2nd
ND – Andrew Peeke, 2 for high sticking at 14:27 in the 2nd
ND – Bo Brauer, 2 for hooking at 7:55 in the 3rd
1. Cale Morris
2. Bo Brauer
3. Andrew Sturtz
#2 Notre Dame (21-5-1, 15-2-0-0 B1G) and #17 Penn State (13-12-4, 6-9-4-2 B1G)
Highlights from tonight’s 5-3 comeback win at Penn State! pic.twitter.com/H8BBQXVYfN— Notre Dame Hockey (@NDHockey) February 3, 2018