UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In a game that featured tremendous momentum swings, 91 combined shots and a penalty shot in overtime, the No. 17 Penn State Nittany Lions and the No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish battled to a 2-2 tie Saturday evening at Pegula Ice Arena.
Leading the way for the Fighting Irish was goaltender Cale Morris, who stood on his head and tallied 55 saves on the night.
“He’s been our rock all season,” said Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson. “Especially against a team like Penn State who shoots from everywhere, rebound control is really important. He played very composed.”
In the waning minutes of overtime, Morris was called on again to make a big save, as Penn State’s Andrew Sturtz was awarded a penalty shot after being dragged down from behind on a breakaway. Sturtz deked twice and had Morris beat until a last ditch pad save preserved the tie for the Fighting Irish.
“Give Cale a ton of credit, he played him great,” said Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky. “I’d take Sturtz in that situation anytime, and no one wants to win more than him. I thought he played a really great game and deserved that.”
Notre Dame claimed the extra Big Ten point with a 1-0 shootout victory on a goal by Jordan Gross and three saves by Morris.
The Nittany Lions once again came out with the same high-energy offense that we saw on Friday night and were able to generate several quality scoring chances. Penn State (13-12-5, 6-9-5-2 B1G) ultimately finished with a 57-34 shot advantage; however, unlike the previous outing it was unable to capitalize early and had to fight its way out of a 2-0 deficit.
Notre Dame (21-5-1, 15-2-1-1 B1G) was held to a single shot through the first six minutes of the game until a pair of opportune and fortunate first-period goals shifted the tide in its favor.
Cal Burke, who leads the Fighting Irish in goals this season with 13, opened the scoring and gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead at the 6:38 mark after batting in a juicy rebound courtesy of Nittany Lions goaltender Peyton Jones. Burke crashed the net following what seemed to be a harmless shot from Andrew Oglevie; however, Jones failed to fully coral the puck, and Burke was able to cash in on an easy open-net goal.
Two minutes later, Notre Dame extended its lead to 2-0 after Dylan Malquist somehow deflected a bouncing puck through heavy traffic and into the back of the net.
Penn State got on the score sheet and stole the momentum back just before the first intermission after Sturtz, who currently sits second in the Big Ten with 38 points, sent home a rebound, cutting the deficit in half.
“I thought the games were similar; both teams had two-goal leads this weekend,” said Jackson. “One of those sayings is that a two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey. As one team elevates, one team gets comfortable, and it comes back to bite you. The same thing happened tonight.”
The Nittany Lions carried that momentum into the second period and really began putting their imprint on the game. In the second period alone, they tallied 20 shots, while Jones, who finished with 32 saves, shook off his rough first period and stopped every shot he faced the rest of the way.
“No matter if we are up 5-0 or down 5-0, I always try to play like it is 0-0 and worry about the next shot; if you dwell on the goals that you give up, it’s only going to lead to worse things ahead,” said Jones.
The final and tying goal of the evening came just 2:09 into the second period as Liam Folkes one-timed a pass from Brandon Biro and was able to beat Morris five-hole.