Penn State Takes Game Two, Routs Notre Dame 9-1
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa – The No. 9 Penn State Nittany Lions bounced back from a tough loss Friday against No. 5 Notre Dame, routing the Irish 9-1 in game two on Saturday. Penn State snapped a six-game winless streak against the Fighting Irish with the win and set a program record for most goals scored in a Big Ten game.
“Before tonight it seemed like we would play unbelievable against them every time and always lose,” Penn State captain Chase Berger said. “It’s really good to finally break through against them but at the end of the day it’s a split and we still have two more games against them.”
Penn State joined Western Michigan as the only teams to have scored four or more goals on back-to-back nights twice since 2006-07 against Notre Dame. Only six other teams have done the same in that span.
“They have great offensive depth,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said. “They play a great transition game…it was inevitable that they were going to beat us eventually and tonight was the night.”
Regarding Penn State’s offensive depth, the Nittany Lions had 13 different players record a point in Saturday’s game and held a 43-27 advantage in shots.
After a Penn State comeback bid that fell just short on Friday night, Notre Dame got on the board early in game two when Cam Morrison scored his sixth goal of the season past Peyton Jones off a beautiful pass across the ice from Cal Burke.
Penn State began to fire on all cylinders from there and picked apart Notre Dame’s third-ranked scoring defense for the rest of the night. The Nittany Lions responded to Morrison’s goal by putting three consecutive scores past star Notre Dame goaltender, Cale Morris, who made 44 saves on 48 shots the night before in a 5-4 win. It was the first time that Morris had conceded three goals in a period since February 10 of last season against Ohio State.
“I think we were just super confident,” Penn State forward Brandon Biro said. “We felt like we should’ve come out with a win last night. I think a point of emphasis today was don’t let off in the second period and I think it really paid off for us.”
Penn State’s first line of Alex Limoges, Evan Barratt and Liam Folkes was especially dominant in the opening period, continuing its incredible productiveness this season.
Barratt was credited with an assist on all three goals, while Limoges scored the first two Penn State goals of the evening. Coming into Saturday’s game, Barratt and Limoges were tied for the national lead in points scored.
Limoges’ second goal of the period was short-handed as he was able to get loose off a Notre Dame turnover and beat Morris past his glove side.
Notre Dame had an opportunity to tie things up a 2-2 heading into the first intermission after Penn State’s Alex Stevens was given a two-minute penalty for hooking. However, the Penn State defense squandered the Notre Dame power-play and just seconds after the Nittany Lions were back at full strength, Kevin Kerr scored his first goal of the season off a wrist shot from the right point to make it 3-1.
“Kevin Kerr is an extremely important part of our team and I thought he played really well. I know he can be even better,” Gadowsky said.
Penn State would keep its foot on the gas pedal in the second period and quickly extend its lead to 4-1 after Sam Sternschein put one past Morris on the power-play for his sixth goal of the season. The score came following a Notre Dame penalty for too many skaters on the ice.
Penn State continued to apply tremendous pressure on Morris. Alec Marsh scored his second goal of the season minutes later off an assist from captain Chase Berger. Berger reached 100 points for his career, becoming the third player in program history to reach the milestone.
“He’s a perfect representative of what we want Penn State hockey to be,” Gadowsky said. “He’s a great student, a great person, extremely grateful for everything has to offer and is a tremendous player and tremendous leader.”
“The program is young and some other guys are going to hit the milestone soon,” Berger said. “It’s really cool, but I also have a lot of really good teammates to thank. My parents were also here tonight so that was really cool to do it in front of them.”
Coming into Saturday night’s game, Morris had stopped an impressive 93.6 percent of opponents’ shots on goal this season, but Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson subsequently benched his star goaltender in favor of sophomore Dylan St. Cyr.
“Something we talked about was being able to get some second chances right in front of the net,” Biro said. “A goalie like Morris, he’s usually going to stop the first shot so just getting bodies in front of the net was something we discussed before the game.”
Penn State just continued to pour it on though when Berger scored his sixth goal of the season to close out the second period and make it 6-1. Nate Sucese and Kris Myllari were credited with the assists.
The third period would only get uglier for the Irish. Midway through the final frame, Notre Dame captain Andrew Peeke was sent to the penalty box for cross-checking. Seconds later Nikita Pavlychev netted his 10th goal of the season to continue the rout.
Marsh would score his second goal of the game off an assist from Berger to give the Nittany Lions their eighth goal of the evening immediately after a Penn State penalty kill. With 3:18 left to go at that point, most fans began to exit Pegula as this one was all but wrapped up.
Penn State capped the evening off with a goal from Barratt, his 13th of the season off an assist from Limoges and Folkes to seal game two at 9-1.
Penn State’s prolific offensive performance overshadowed a brilliant game by Jones in net and the rest of the Penn State defense. After allowing the opening goal early, Jones finished with 26 saves for a 96.3 save percentage.
“The truth is, yesterday’s first period was the best defensive effort we’ve ever had,” Gadowsky said. “We had an excellent defensive effort tonight for a more consistent time. Peyton (Jones) was awesome tonight – he made some really big saves, but this was a team defensive effort.”
Notre Dame will have a few weeks off before taking on Boston College at home on December 31. On the other side, Penn State will clash with Princeton at the Wells Fargo Center on December 15 before heading to Minneapolis for a series against Minnesota a few weeks later on January 4.
Will Desautelle is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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