Penn State Wins Overtime Thriller, MacEachern the Hero

Story posted December 11, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Kyle Cannillo

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A winning streak. Another strong Penn State performance leads to a 3-2 overtime win against the Arizona State Sun Devils. 

Penn State is now 2-5 on the season, as this inexperienced group appears to be slowly turning the corner.

Coming into Friday night, goaltending and team defense were a consistent problem. In fact, the Nittany Lions were second to last in the country in goals against per game. The story was different Friday.

Oskar Autio made some key saves, including a few from point blank range. This allowed Penn State to find its rhythm in the first period.

“Autio played fantastic, and he had to,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “He was excellent tonight, and we needed him to be.”

The first goal was scored on a power play with just over 10 minutes remaining in the first period. Penn State showed precision passing with phenomenal puck movement. Captain Alex Limoges will officially be credited with the goal, but the acclaim should go to Tim Doherty for the fantastic feed. He sent it from the circle down low to Limoges, who stashed it in the wide open net.

ASU had two consecutive power plays to try and tie it, but both came up unsuccessful, largely due to Autio’s outstanding performance in net.

The second goal was role reversed. This time, with under three minutes to play in the first period, Limoges sent it to Doherty in the slot. Doherty, who scored 14 goals a season ago with Maine, ripped a low shot past the right pad of ASU goalie Evan Debrouwer.

“Those were some big time plays,” Gadowsky said. “You cannot teach that. That's great deception and vision.”

Both Limoges and Doherty got their third goals of the season in the period.  

It was a relatively even second frame, yet Arizona State was able to cut the lead in half.

The Sun Devils finally showed some life for their best shift of the game with 11 minutes to play in the period. Wisconsin transfer Sean Dhooghe missed the 4x6 all alone in the slot. Autio sprawled out, but it didn’t matter.

With under seven to play in the second, the Sun Devils caught Penn State too aggressive down low. PJ Marrocco jumped on the loose puck, creating a 2-on-1. He fed it across to William Knierim, who put it top shelf to get the game within one.

Knierim thought he had his second of the evening with under three minutes to play in the second. Penn State hockey head coach Guy Gadwosky alertly challenged the play for offside, knocking the tying goal off the board.

At this point, ASU started to find its skating legs. Penn State’s Clayton Phillips took an interference penalty, sending the Sun Devils to an important power play that carried over into the third.

Here, Dhooghe got redemption. Much like the first goal, the Sun Devils broke down Penn State and caught the Nittany LIons on an odd-man rush. Dhooghe beat Autio over the right blocker, and the game was tied.

Despite two unanswered, Penn State showed resiliency. Arizona State got into penalty trouble allowing Penn State to have a 5-on-3.

The Nittany Lions had chances left and right but couldn’t get it past Debrouwer. Doherty should have had his second of the game but shot a one-timer wide.

The conclusion of the power play did not mean the conclusion of Penn State chances, however. Without hesitation the Nittany Lions fired away, and they nearly had a two-minute shift in the ASU end. Somehow, some way, Debrouwer kept them out.

That sent it to overtime. With the unique rules this season, Penn State had to find twine in the 3-on-3 period, or the game would have resulted in a tie. Sophomore Connor MacEachern scored his first goal of the season in walk-off fashion.

Fresh off the bench, MacEachern found himself on a 2-on-1 with Limoges. With confidence, MacEachern sniped a beauty to the top corner, crowning himself the hero and ending the game.

“I love [MacEachern’s] mentality,” Gadowsky said. “He was looking at Limo but made the right decision to shoot.”

Penn State held a 50-34 shot advantage and was excellent on special teams, as the Nittany Lions were 4 for 4 on the penalty kill.

Unlike the typical back-to-back two-game series, the rematch with Arizona State will take place on Sunday, allowing both teams Saturday to recuperate.

 

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