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Lions Fall In Game 2: On To The B1G Tournament

It was nice to see the team skating around again, though the 7-1 finish was not optimal.

Photo by Heather Weikel

Penn State was not able to improve their Big Ten seeding this weekend in Compton Arena against Notre Dame. A pair of losses following a 34-day layoff is not what the team hoped for but it was important to get on the ice before the start of the Big Ten Tournament.

The Lions scored first and held a lead into the second period. Notre Dame slowly scored the next 7 goals, seemingly seven different ways, as they pulled away for the series sweep.

The teams will face off next Sunday at noon in Compton Arena in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament. It will be interesting to see how the familiarity affects the game. Dating back to the final series before the layoff, the Lions will have faced Notre Dame for 5 consecutive games.

There were a few scuffles after the whistle this weekend and with the season hanging in the balance for both teams, it should be very competitive. Both teams will need more than one win in the B1G Tournament to gain an at-large bid so a loss will end the year.

How It Happened

The teams came out skating with some strong pace and the game was clean as well. They went back and forth in the opening minutes but Notre Dame got the first five shots on goal. Penn State answered with some pressure on goalie Dylan St. Cyr and finally it paid off.

Christian Sarlo got the goal and Alex Limoges and Jimmy Dowd, Jr. each picked up an assist.

Just a couple of minutes later Oskar Autio kept the one-goal lead by stopping a clean breakaway. It wasn’t just a clean breakaway, either, as the Irish had a second player trailing to clean up any rebound. Autio made a nice kick save and then kept his pads on the ice as sticks frantically swatted at the puck and Penn State joined the fray.

With 5 minutes to go before the first intermission Penn State went on the first power play of the game. As the penalty was almost over, Notre Dame got called for another, extending the advantage in the closing minutes of the period. The Lions got a couple of nice looks but Oskar Autio had to stop a short-handed clean breakaway.

The second period was not kind to the Lions, who gave up a breakaway goal early in the period. It was the third breakaway allowed and it was too much for Autio. Jake Pivonka took a loose puck in the neutral zone and turned it into a 2-1 Notre Dame lead a few minutes later. It would have been a tough save for Autio to make. Midway through the period another goal got past Autio to make it a 3-1 deficit.

Notre Dame went on a power play with 1:28 left before the second intermission but were unable to add to the lead.

With the Lions trailing by a pair it was critical to get off to a good start in the final period. Unfortunately Notre Dame got the next goal to extend the lead to 4-1. Five minutes into the final frame Penn State faced a 5 on 3 power play when Christian Berger was given a 5-minute penalty for making contact to the head with his stick.

It was clear that Guy Gadowsky’s team still had a great deal of fight in them. With no fans in the arena, the players on the bench could be heard in the audio of the game. With each blocked shot, the bench erupted with support for the 3 skaters on the ice. Able to kill the two-man advantage, the team then killed the rest of the 5-minute penalty with a gutsy performance, chasing Notre Dame all over the ice.

The effort left it 4-1 with ten minutes to play, leaving the Lions a fighting chance to get back in the game. Liam Soulierre entered in net following the fourth allowed goal by Autio, which means that he was the goalie during the penalty kill and remainder of the game. He played well but Trevor Janike beat him to the glove side off a face-off win right in front of him. Two more goals in garbage time rounded out the scoring.