Goals By Period
For the first time in what has seemed like a long time, Penn State rediscovered its offensive identity. Against a Notre Dame team known for its stifling defense, the Nittany Lions managed sustained and consistent pressure on Cale Morris.
Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, the Hockey Gods don’t always accommodate.
The Nittany Lions let a win and three crucial Big Ten points slip away in a 3-3 tie against Notre Dame on Friday night. Though they did take sole possession of first in the conference with the tie, the Nittany Lions missed out on an extra point in the standings as the Fighting Irish won a seven-round shootout 1-0.
“It was quiet,” coach Guy Gadowsky said of the mood in the locker room following the game. “I think we probably feel we let one get away. From our coaching standpoint, we believe that they should feel pretty good about a lot of things, but they didn’t win, so they feel a little down.”
It took a bit of time and a Fighting Irish goal for the Nittany Lions to find their footing in the game, but once they settled in, they began firing on all cylinders.
Though the shots leveled out in the second and third period, the Nittany Lions seemed to dominate possession, with shot attempts favoring the Nittany Lions by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.
Still, they couldn’t quite get the bounces they needed to secure the victory, due in large part to the play of Cale Morris, who finished the night with 45 saves, including seven between the two overtime sessions.
While Penn State’s big guns had their share of chances, the Nittany Lions’ offense was carried by an unlikely source. Freshman Tyler Gratton played a key part in his team’s first and third goals.
Stationed in front of Morris on both, he took away the Fighting Irish goalie’s sight as a Nikita Pavlychev shot floated over his shoulder to open the scoring for Penn State. Then, early in the third peirod, Gratton deflected a point shot past Morris for his third of the season.
To beat a goaltender of Cale Morris’ quality, those types of plays and players are vital. Gratton fits that mold perfectly.
“He’s high energy when he is fresh and moving his feet,” Gadowsky said. “He’s a guy you have to pull the reins in, not kick him.”
How It Happened
Early in the first period, the Fighting Irish opened the scoring. After Trevor Janicke recovered a dump in, Colin Theisen set up Mike O’Leary for a tap in goal.
With just under six minutes to go in the first, the Nittany Lions finally broke through Cale Morris. Using Tyler Gratton as a screen, Nikita Pavlychev floated a shot from the side boards over Morris’ shoulder.
Penn State took over the game early in the second period. Just over five minutes into the period, the Nittany Lions took the lead. Connor MacEachern took a pass beside the Fighting Irish net and, after being denied his initial attempt, nudged a pass to Sam Sternschein, who buried a shot into a vacant cage.
A few minutes later, the Fighting Irish leveled the game at two. After beating out an icing, Matt Hellickson gathered a rebound in the high slot and fired a shot over Peyton Jones’ blocker.
Early in the third period, the Nittany Lions regained the lead as Tyler Gratton deflected a point shot from Alex Stevens past Morris.
The Fighting Irish leveled the game at three with under two minutes to play. Just as Cale Morris was heading to the bench for the extra skater, Michael Graham brought the puck to the front of the net, where he was met by Max Sauve. During the collision, the puck rolled into the net as Jones was sprawled out of position.