Penn State Falls 4-2 in Heartbreaker Against No. 13 Notre Dame

Story posted January 8, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Evan Popalis

Following a victory in West Point against Army, Penn State returned home to take on conference foe Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish had lost its previous two of three games heading into Happy Valley for a showdown versus the Nittany Lions. It was the first game action away from South Bend for Notre Dame since ending a series against Michigan on Nov. 20.

The opening twenty minutes of play was not the kindest on the eyes. A feeling out process between the two sides resulted in a slow-paced style with no lamplighters.

Turnovers plagued both the Fighting Irish and Nittany Lions in the first period. Penn State had difficulties clearing its zone, and Notre Dame seemed to put forth lazy stretch passes.

The middle frame featured crisp plays leading to a total of four goals dispersed throughout the period. It started less than a minute into the period as Max Ellis initiated the night’s scoring.

The tally for Ellis was a backdoor tap-in opportunity that he received off the stick of Jake Pivonka. The secondary assist was attributed to Jesse Lansdell.

Grant Silianoff replicated his team’s first goal on a backside poke past Oskar Audio three minutes later. The assist beneficiaries on the goal were Lansdell and Spencer Stastney.

Penn State fought back and cut the deficit in half less than two minutes later. Adam Pilewicz netted his second goal of the season with an emphatic slapshot from the point. Connor MacEachern and Connor McMenamin were the two skaters credited with assists.

“He shoots pucks and it’s paying off,” coach Guy Gadowsky said regarding Pilewicz. “He is a guy that does what is right. He plays within what we do.”

As time dwindled in the period, Tyler Paquette wristed one over the glove of Notre Dame goaltender Ryan Bischel. That unassisted mark would tie the game heading into the second intermission.

A back-and-forth third period ensued with neither team breaking through on the scoresheet over halfway through the frame. With seven minutes remaining, Notre Dame scored a controversial goal due to the puck ricocheting off the netting; however, the referees deemed the puck had stayed in play.

The Nittany Lions challenged the goal call but were unsuccessful, falling behind 3-2. In the waning minutes of the game, Ellis fired home an empty-netter to seal the deal for the visitors.

Notre Dame’s 4-2 victory pushes it to 14-6-0 overall, while Penn State slides to 12-9-0. Bischel recorded 38 saves for the Irish, and Autio ended at the three-decade mark.

Autio made much-needed saves throughout the night that allowed Penn State to keep itself in the contest.

“I thought he played really, really well,” Gadowsky said. “I thought he handled himself well.”

Penn State came away empty on the powerplay, going 0-for-3 on the night. College hockey’s best penalty kill shined yet again for the Irish.

Notre Dame moves to 10-1-0 on the season when it scores first in the contest.

The second game of the weekend series gets underway at 5 pm on Saturday at Pegula Ice Arena.

Evan Popalis is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email

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Evan Popalis

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Evan Popalis is a third-year from Lititz, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism. He is a writer, analyst, and play-by-play commentator for the CommRadio sports department. His writings include weekly NHL betting previews along with power rankings for the NHL and NFL. He appears weekly on the NHL Podcast as a host and analyst reviewing the previous week’s action. If you would like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).