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Penn State Completes Sweep Of Niagara With 2-0 Win

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Oskar Autio made 24 saves as the Nittany Lions completed a weekend sweep of the Purple Eagles.

Heather Weikel | Black Shoe Diaries

Goals By Period

Team 1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Team 1st 2nd 3rd OT Final
Notre Dame 2 0 2 x 4
Penn State 0 1 1 x 2

Oskar Autio has seen limited action backing up Peyton Jones this season. When he has been called upon, however, he’s made his moment matter.

In just his third start of the season, Autio recorded his second win and shutout of the year as Penn State completed a weekend sweep of Niagara with a 2-0 win. The sophomore netminder made 24 stops, eight in each period, en route to the win.

“It feels good when you know that you have two goaltenders that, no matter what happens, your team has a lot of faith,” coach Guy Gadowsky said.

Gadowsky praised Autio not only for his puck-stopping ability, but also for his composure, which was tested midway through the contest. During the second period, Purple Eagles forward Justin Kendall crashed into Autio as he tried to deflect a puck on net.

Autio got some immediate retaliation on Kendall with a face wash and joined a few post-whistle scrums through the remainder of the game. Though those post-whistle scrums increased in regularity following the incident, Gadowsky didn’t get the sense that it affected the game or his team.

“I think it was a hockey play. I think he was trying to score. I don’t think it was anything intentional and that’s hockey,” Gadowsky said. “I think Oskar handled himself really, really well. Whatever effect that the team had from that, I think one thing is we know Oskar can handle himself.”

Autio’s shutout bid was aided by a strong penalty kill and Penn State’s commitment to blocking shots. The Nittany Lions afforded the Purple Eagles five power play opportunities, but yielded just two shots in those ten minutes.

While Gadowsky pointed out that the main quarterback for Niagara’s power play, Ludwig Stenlund, was out for the weekend, he was still impressed with his team’s penalty killing efforts.

“I though we stayed in shooting lanes very well. I felt we were very aggressive and because of that we were able to clear pucks. So, we’re very happy,” he said.

The Nittany Lions were needed to be at their best defensively during a weekend in which the offense wasn’t clicking. Though they pumped 44 shots on net, the Nittany Lions had just the one even strength goal early in the first. Nikita Pavlychev’s insurance tally came via a two-man advantage.

Two key pieces of Penn State’s offense, Alex Limoges and Aarne Talvitie, were out this weekend with injury and family emergency, respectively. But with the Nittany Lions depth and next-man-up mentality, it can be concerning to produce five goals in a weekend for a team more used to producing five goals in a period.

“It’s not something we’re used to and we have to figure out a way to work through it,” Gadowsky said of the team’s offensive funk.”

How It Happened

Connor McMenamin opened the scoring early in the first period with his second goal of the weekend. Nikita Pavlychev’s pass from behind the net ricocheted off the freshman forward’s shin and past Brian Wilson.

After a scoreless second period, Nikita Pavlychev doubled Penn State’s lead just 21 seconds into the third period. With a two-man advantage, Pavlychev knocked down Evan Barratt’s point shot and whacked a backhand shot into an open net.