Penn State hockey came into its matchup with No. 13 Notre Dame with high hopes. This was the time to start winning. Both the Nittany Lions and the Fighting Irish have a history of playing very close and exciting games. Tonight was no different, but unfortunately, Penn State came up just short.
Penn State got off to a fast start putting up five shots in the first two minutes of the opening period. After those two minutes, the Fighting Irish started to play their brand of structured hockey. It may seem boring, but it works. This made it difficult for Penn State to get quality chances on Notre Dame goaltender, Ryan Bischel.
The Fighting Irish shielded Nittany Lion passing lanes and shooting lanes, which turned the first period into a slugfest.
The Blue and White were without Danny Dzhaniyev and Ryan Kirwan as both were serving as healthy scratches, while Kenny Johnson was serving a one-game suspension.
Penn State was out-shot 14-9, but Oskar Autio held down the fort stopping all 14 Notre Dame shots.
The second period started very poorly for Penn State. Notre Dames' leading scorer, Max Ellis, opened the scoring on a 3-on-2 break.
Three minutes later, Grant Silianoff scored on the man-advantage to extend the lead to two. This was the second goal of the game that came right in front of Autio.
However, Penn State was able to cut the lead in half with a long-range blast from Adam Pilawicz. That was Pilawicz's second goal in as many games.
It's a P-BOMB!! pic.twitter.com/3tmbnCn4GX— Penn State Mens Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) January 8, 2022
Notre Dame has outscored opponents 27-8 in the second period alone coming into this game.
Penn State started to show some life late in the middle frame, putting more shots on Bischel. With just 40 seconds left, Tyler Paquette sniped one short-side to tie the game at two.
The third period was even more chaotic. Penn State had the majority of momentum, but both teams were playing well defensively.
However, with seven minutes to play in the third period, Landon Slaggart gave the Fighting Irish the lead after the puck appeared to go out of play. The referees did not blow the play dead, which sealed the deal after Ellis had an empty net goal, giving Notre Dame a 4-2 win.
The controversial play frustrated fans and players, but Notre Dame played until the whistle.
"You're taught from a young age to play the whistle and we didn't do that," Pilawicz said. "And [Notre Dame] did and it ended up in the back of our net. So we've just got to keep going. And make sure that doesn't happen."
Despite the loss, Guy Gadowsky felt that the Nittany Lions played a strong game.
"We did a lot of things right today against a very good team, a very good defensive team. And it didn't quite go in," Gadowsky said.
- Autio keeping Penn State alive. The senior net-minder was the reason the first period was scoreless.
- Pilawicz stays hot. The fifth-year senior has been playing great hockey as of late. He now has goals in back-to-back games.
"I really haven't changed anything. Just trying to try to keep doing what I can do and then shoot the puck," Pilawicz said. "Luckily I've been getting my shots through and it's been working."
Playing with speed through the neutral zone. Penn State was able to get into the offensive zone cleanly because they skated the puck up the ice quickly, rather than throw a long stretch pass that normally gets picked off.
Penn State falls to 12-9-0 overall and 3-7-0 in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions were 0-3 on the power play and were 1-2 on the penalty kill, despite racking up 40 shots on the night. They will try and respond with a win Saturday at 5 p.m.