Penn State Comes Back from Early Deficit for Sweep of Arizona State

Story posted December 13, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Christopher Hess

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Being down 4-1 is typically an impossible hole to climb out of, but Penn State (3-5) scored four unanswered goals to complete the sweep of Arizona State (3-6-1) 5-4 in overtime Sunday afternoon.

“I give the guys a lot of credit for coming back,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “It was a big win for these guys.”

The Sun Devils came out of the gate with flying colors, as it took them just 3:05 to get on the board, courtesy of Jax Murray beating Liam Soulière handily to give ASU a 1-0 lead.

Then, in the blink of an eye, 1-0 became 2-0, as Benji Eckerle found the back of the net just 24 seconds later, and the Nittany Lions found themselves down two not even four minutes into the contest.

James Sanchez added another Sun Devils goal at 4:14 in the first, and suddenly it was 3-0 ASU. Soulière, however, did not get pulled after letting in three early goals.

Long Island native Christian Sarlo then knifed into the Arizona State lead with a goal on the doorstep at 5:20 to get Penn State on the board. It had seemed as if Penn State stopped the bleeding.

The two-goal deficit was then increased to three once again as Willie Knierim notched a power-play goal at 14:05, and the lead for the Sun Devils was 4-1.

Penn State began to pressure netminder Evan DeBrouwer late in the first and eventually broke through again, as Alex Limoges redirected a shot into the net at 17:27. The first period ended with the Nittany Lions down 4-2.

Not even 15 seconds into the period, Aarne Talvitie got Penn State to within one at 4-3, and the heat was on.

Limoges added another goal, this time on the power play, at 4:21 and the Nittany Lions had climbed all the way back into the game with the score tied at four early in the second period.

The defenses then began to show up, as neither team could really generate any sort of offense for the rest of the period.

Mason Snell rang the pipe of DeBrouwer’s glove side with under two minutes left in the second, but the two sides went into the second intermission tied at four.

The third period was much like the second half of the second period. The offenses could not generate any real chances until late in the frame.

Liam Soulière stood on his head late in the third, as the Nittany Lions were on the penalty kill, and made some acrobatic saves on a number of ASU chances.

Clayton Phillips fired one last-ditch effort to the net at the gun, but Paul DeNaples’ redirect opportunity was smothered by DeBrouwer, and both sides would go to overtime yet again.

It was a weekend for the Connors, as this time, Connor McMenamin was the hero, catching the ASU defense napping and rifling a shot from the top of the left circle bar down on DeBrouwer. The Nittany Lions had completed the miraculous comeback to win 5-4.

Connor MacEachern scored the game-winner in overtime in Game 1 from the exact same spot on the exact same shot.

Soulière, despite the rocky start, finished the game with 36 saves on 40 shots for a .900 save percentage. His tight play in the second and third periods and overtime gave his team the chance to win.

“He showed a lot of mental toughness,” Gadowsky said. “He was so composed, especially in the third period.”

The Nittany Lions will head into the holiday break at 3-5 overall with the rest of the schedule yet to be announced.

 

Christopher Hess is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email christopherhess22@gmail.com.