Penn State Rallies from 2-0 Deficit, Defeats Notre Dame 6-3 in First Round of B1G Tournament
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — One week makes a big difference.
No. 5 Penn State (10-11) took care of business by defeating No. 4 Notre Dame (14-13-2) 6-3 in the Big Ten quarterfinals Sunday.
The Nittany Lions came out of the game sluggish, as Notre Dame looked virtually unstoppable dictating the pace of the game and getting shots on goal early.
Colin Theisen opened the scoring on the power play at 2:10 of the opening frame, banging home a loose puck at the welcome mat and giving the Irish the early 1-0 lead.
Then just 31 seconds later, Jesse Lansdell potted one past Autio, and just like that, it was 2-0 Notre Dame. The start for Penn State looked eerily similar to last week’s debacle, but it didn’t stay that way.
There’s a reason why playoff hockey is so special.
Jared Westcott began a Penn State rush in the middle of the first with solid stickhandling moves, knifing through the Notre Dame defense. But Dylan St. Cyr stood tall, kept it a 2-0 game.
Then Alex Limoges had supposedly scored a goal at 8:20 on a backhand, but it was determined that he was offside, and the goal was wiped off.
But it was clear that Penn State had begun to buzz toward the end of the period, and eventually the hard work paid off.
Long Island native Christian Sarlo went bardown on St. Cyr at 18:52, and the Notre Dame lead was cut in half heading into the first intermission.
PSU’s aggressive nature on offense was beginning to show, and it took just 3:19 into the second stanza for the Nittany Lions to equal the score.
McMenamin, off of a feed from Wall, went five-hole on St. Cyr, and the Nittany Lions tied the game at two.
The duo of McMenamin and Wall wasn’t done yet though. McMenamin received a pass from Kevin Wall on a breakaway opportunity at 10:10, and suddenly it was a 3-2 hockey game after he deked and dangled his way toward the crease.
Guy Gadowsky’s team was far from being finished in the goals department.
On the power play at 14:55, Tim Doherty chipped one up high on St. Cyr on a beautiful feed from Limoges, and it became 4-2 Penn State.
The Nittany Lions went into the second intermission with that extremely important two-goal lead, and everything seemed to have clicked in those 20 minutes of play.
Four unanswered goals turned into five at 8:20 of the third period as Chase McLane stuffed in a loose puck in front, and Penn State’s lead became 5-2.
Notre Dame did not go away quietly, though. Jeff Jackson pulled St. Cyr, and the aggressive call worked as crunch time approached.
After a Jared Westcott slashing penalty, Ryder Rolston tapped a pass from Jake Pivonka into the net past Autio at 12:56 on the power play to make it 5-3 Penn State.
Notre Dame pulled St. Cyr again with 3:21 to go and had a number of chances, but the Nittany Lions did not waver.
Chase McLane hit the empty net at 19:29 for his second goal of the game, and that was the icing on the cake for a 6-3 Penn State win.
No. 5 Penn State will advance to the tournament semifinals for the sixth time in a row and seventh time in the program’s eight-year history. The Nittany Lions will take on No. 1 Wisconsin Monday at 4:30 p.m.
Christopher Hess is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.