Rally Falls Short, No. 5 Notre Dame Tops No. 9 Men’s Hockey 5-4
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA- Nine different skaters scored goals as No. 5 Notre Dame defeated No. 9 Penn State 5-4 Friday at Pegula Ice Arena.
Penn State (10-5-1) sparked a third-period rally, but it wasn’t enough to tie things up against the Irish (11-4-1).
Just 70 seconds after puck drop, freshman Aarne Talvitie provided an early spark, scoring his fifth career goal with a wrister past the blocker of Notre Dame’s Cale Morris to give Penn State a 1-0 lead.
However, the theme of the night became the Irish answering at every opportunity, starting when Matt Hellickson shot a dart from point-blank past Penn State net-minder Chris Funkey, tying things up at one just two minutes after Talvitie’s goal.
The Penn State defense responded by allowing just one shot on goal the remaining 16 minutes of the first period, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t keep the puck away from Funkey much longer.
Notre Dame scored twice in the first 1:25 of the second period with goals from Cam Morrison and Mike O’Leary. This would be the end of the night for Funkey, who allowed as many goals as he made saves.
“When 50 percent of the shots go in, we have to make a change,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said.
Funkey was relieved by freshman Oskar Autio, who made 16 saves in his collegiate debut.
“I think Oskar (Autio) did a great job in a very tough situation,” Gadowsky said. “I thought he made some huge saves, just thought he played great.”
Down 3-1 early in the second period, Penn State cut the lead in half when Paul DeNaples fired a shot from just inside the blue line that deflected off the stick of Cole Hults into the back of the net.
Sticking with the night’s theme, the Irish quieted the Pegula Ice Arena crowd as captain Andrew Peeke went top-shelf on Autio from the left dot, giving Notre Dame a two-goal lead back with just under three minutes to play in the middle stanza. The goal was a result of too many men on the ice penalty committed by the Nittany Lions in the middle of their own power play.
The Nittany Lions found themselves within striking distance yet again when Denis Smirnov navigated his way through traffic and sent a backhand dart over the glove of Morris, electrifying the crowd with around 14 minutes to play.
90 seconds later, Notre Dame’s Matt Steeves poked a rebound past Autio and silenced the crowd with yet another bold response goal. Gadowsky chose to stick with the freshman goalie, who didn’t allow any more goals over the final 13 minutes.
Penn State would pull within one goal for the final time when Ludvig Larsson dished a blind backhand pass to Nate Sucese, making the score 5-4 with seven minutes to play.
Penn State would test Cale Morris for seven long minutes, peppering shots from every angle, but couldn’t sneak one past the established goaltender. With 90 seconds to play, Autio skated to the bench giving Penn State the man advantage, but a last-effort pass to the point squirted past DeNaples near center ice where Notre Dame gained possession and ran out the clock.
Penn State out-shot Notre Dame 48-24 on the night, with Cole Morris making 44 saves. The two squads will meet again Saturday for the final game of the Big Ten series.
Matt Freiler is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.