A hockey game is 60 minutes. Tonight it was 65. With just 0.2 seconds left in overtime, Notre Dame's leading scorer Max Ellis, sealed a 5-4 victory for the Fighting Irish completing the sweep of Penn State.
Though it feels that this game was stolen from the Nittany Lions, Guy Gadowsky feels that this series could have gone either way.
"I think we're growing," Gadowsky said. "You can say in one sense that we deserved a better fate in both nights. But on the other hand, can you say we clearly deserved a winner? No."
No.13 Notre Dame once again opened the scoring with a quick strike from Solag Bakich. This was the second night in a row where Penn State allowed the first goal. The Fighting Irish limited the Nittany Lions to just one shot through the first five minutes of the period.
Kevin Wall potted home his 13th goal of the season to tie the game at one. Ben Copeland fired a shot from the far hashmark and Wall chopped it past Notre Dame goaltender, Matthew Galajda.
Equalizer pic.twitter.com/ZTd3uZpjAw— Penn State Mens Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) January 8, 2022
Penn State started to find its game. Passes were tape-to-tape and shots were getting through to the net. However, it was patience from Jimmy Dowd Jr. that gave Penn State its first lead of the series.
A turning point in this period was when Jesse Lansdell was ejected for a hit to the head, giving the Nittany Lions a five-minute power play. Penn State had the momentum, but did not get any grade-A scoring chances towards the end of the period.
The second period was yet again hectic. For the first 11 minutes of the frame, Penn State was outshooting the Fighting Irish 13-0. The Lions were aggressive on the forecheck and causing lots of turnovers. One of those attempts resulted in Dowd Jr.'s second goal of the game, and third of the season, on the man-advantage.
The power play was power-less coming into tonight's contest, 0-13, and Notre Dame has the best penalty killing unit in the Big Ten (92.6%).
But the Fighting Irish would not go away quietly, scoring two unanswered goals from below the goal line.
That would not last long as Clayton Phillips responded with his fifth of the campaign, giving Penn State the lead. The fifth-year senior played a more simple game tonight.
"When he does not try to do everything, he can be one of if not the best player on the ice," Gadowsky said.
Just as the second period was all Penn State, the third was all Notre Dame. Mid-way through the third period, Connor MacEachern left the game due to an injury.
The Fighting Irish out shot the Nittany Lions 15-9 in the final 20 minutes. With 2:13 to play in regulation, Cam Burke tallied on a rebound to send the game to overtime.
- A good defense makes a good offense. Penn State got four goals from defensemen in this series. The defense being active is a big part of how Penn State likes to play.
- Staying out of the box. This was the first time all season that Penn State did not commit a penalty. This kept them in the hockey game. The Blue and White allowed one power-play goal last night.
"I think what the takeaway is that we can do it," Gadowsky said. "We took three offensive zone penalties yesterday. And that played a big part in our loss. And the mentality is that the guys they learned from that."
- Dzhaniyev was excellent. Though he did not appear on the scoresheet, Danny Dzhaniyev had a really strong night. He was hustling to pucks and winning battles. He was also playing extremely well positionally breaking up lots of high-danger scoring opportunities. The Brooklyn native was scratched last night due to "health and safety protocols". He was playing center tonight, playing on a line with Xander Lamppa and Dylan Lugris.
"I thought he played well. I thought he generated some chances," Gadowsky said. "I guarantee you he's a better hockey player right now than he was three days ago."
- Not playing a full 60 minutes. A theme that has been happening for this team over and over again is not putting together a complete performance. "I thought we had a really good game... and then it's like, 'Oh you're so close, but you're not there yet'." Paul DeNaples said. "So it's just pulling together full strength."
- Oskar Autio was yet again phenomenal. Autio did everything he could to keep Penn State's hopes alive. He made 34 saves to cap off the night.
Penn State now falls to 12-10-0 overall and 3-8-1 in the Big Ten. They are now tied with Wisconsin for sixth place. However, Penn State sits at 25th place in the PairWise rankings. The Nittany Lions will next travel to Ann Arbor to take on the No. 6 Michigan Wolverines.