Fighting Irish Top Nittany Lions in Overtime 3-2

Story posted January 29, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Kyle Cannillo

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State earns a point, but the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame scored two unanswered to defeat the Nittany Lions 3-2 in overtime on Friday.

After getting outshot 16-8 in the first frame a night ago, Penn State came out of the gate significantly better. There were chances on either side, but it was the Nittany Lions that got on the board first.

At 14:28 of the first period, Tyler Gratton stole a loose puck out front and put it bardown. Gratton’s goal was his first point of the season. Penn State went into the first intermission with a 9-7 shot advantage.

“It was a great individual effort,” Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “It was his mentality and legs that created an opportunity.”

Goaltender Oskar Autio, meanwhile, is playing his best hockey. With just four goals given up this weekend, the junior netminder has solidified himself as Penn State’s No. 1 in net. Autio made 24 saves on 27 shots Friday, including a few important ones in the third period. It’s  obvious that Autio is tracking pucks well and has his confidence back.

The second period was as tight checking as they come. Notre Dame got the equalizer off the stick of Alex Steeves.

A puck was sent right to the net mouth where Autio made a sprawling initial save. But Steeves then swatted the puck out of the air to find twine. The goal was his ninth of the season and second of the weekend.

“Any time in this league you score on back-to-back nights, it’s a great weekend,” Gadowsky said. “He is a great player. The results speak for themselves.”

Penn State couldn’t get anything going in the second frame. Notre Dame locked down the neutral zone, and the Nittany Lions poorly managed the puck.

Sure enough, Penn State and Notre Dame headed to the third period in another one-goal game. Friday’s result was the 12th one-goal game of the 20 total between the two programs.

Penn State came out flying in the third period and got rewarded for it. Bobby Hampton fed a pass out front when senior Sam Sternschien put it home. Sternschein led the Nittany Lions last year in goals with 12, but tonight’s goal was just his second of the year.

“They are a really good hockey team,” Sternschein said. “I thought we had them and just got burned on one or two plays.”

One of those plays came at a crucial moment, as Colin Theisen knotted it up with under nine minutes to go in the third. The senior from Michigan made a great play, powering to the front of the net and sliding the puck past the right pad of Autio.

For the second consecutive night, the Nittany Lions and Fighting Irish were headed to overtime.

With under two minutes to go in the extra frame, Spencer Statsney found himself on a breakaway and ended it for the Irish. The Nittany Lions were a perfect 4-0 in overtime coming into Friday night.

Penn State will have next weekend off, as its series with Michigan was called off due to COVID-19 concerns.

 

Kyle Cannillo is a journalism major at Penn State. To contact him, email kcannillo1@gmail.com.