Penn State Shows Signs of Rust, Loses in Its Return to Play

Story posted March 5, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Kyle Cannillo

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- After a 34-day layoff, Penn State men’s hockey showed signs of rust as it fell to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish by a score of 5-2.

Given the circumstances, it was quite the start for the Nittany Lions. Penn State used its fresh legs to get on the board early. Under three minutes into the first period, Mason Snell let a shot go from the point that found its way by Notre Dame goalie Dylan St. Cyr. 

Notre Dame’s top line wasted no time delivering an answer. The line they are calling the “S” line, comprised of Alex Steeves, Landon Slaggert and Graham Slaggert went to work.

At 4:10 of the first period, Irish point leader Steeves blocked a Penn State shot, sparking an odd man rush back the other direction. Steeves put on a beautiful toe drag around Christian Berger and fed it through the goal mouth where Landon Slaggert tapped it in.

With the goal, Slaggert has extended his point streak to five games.

As time ticked away in the first period, the puck found Penn State defender Paul Denaples sneaking down low for a glorious look on goal. Irish keeper St. Cyr had other ideas when he made a point blank save, robbing Denaples with his left toe.

The first period would end 1-1, while Penn State led in shots 15-7.

Penn State enjoyed the first big chance of the second period. The Nittany Lions were caught in a line change when Christian Sarlo found himself splitting the defense for a breakaway. While pestered from behind, Sarlo sent a weak backhander that was stopped by St. Cyr.

Notre Dame countered with a chance of their own. Jesse Lansdell won a puck battle behind the goal line and sent a blind behind the back pass to Trevor Janicke in the slot. Penn State goalie Oskar Autio stood tall in net to turn aside Janicke’s wrister.

At 10:18 of the second period, Penn State broke the tie. Mason Snell would get his second of the game as he sent the puck across the face of goal and it deflected off an Irish skate and in.

Under two minutes later Matt Steeves answered for Notre Dame. The Irish pinched Penn State to force a turnover and keep the play alive. Piece Crawford sent a backhand towards the slot from the corner and Matt Steeves made no mistake putting it top shelf.

A few minutes later, Penn State captain Alex Limoges used great work with his skates to buy some time, but his wrist shot clanked off the iron.

The second period ended much like the first: all tied.

With three goals in the final frame, the Fighting Irish dominated Penn State in the third period.

For the first time all night, Notre Dame jumped out front. Lansdell made a nice “east/west” move and fed a streaking Max Ellis to grab the 3-2 lead.

The party didn’t stop there. Notre Dame freshman defender Zach Plucinski scored out of a net front scramble for his first career goal to double the lead.

Finally, after multiple reviews and some controversy, a shot from the point deflected off Nate Clurman’s chest and found its way to the back of the net. Penn State challenged the goal for goalie interference and contact to the head, but the officials ruled neither were present.

Notre Dame’s 5-2 victory finally puts them above .500 on the season, improving to 13-12-2. Penn State falls to 9-10-0.

These two will meet up again at 6 p.m. tomorrow night.

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