A tough weekend away from home resulted in a nail-biter of a 3-2 loss for fourth-seed Penn State (18-14-5, 9-10-5) this past weekend. The Lions faced top-seeded Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana on Saturday and gave it all they had.
An electrifying first period set the tone of the game, with all but one of the five total goals finding the twine in the initial 20 minutes of play.
Notre Dame opened up the scoring early in the first period, knocking one past Blue and White goalie Peyton Jones (Langhorne, Pa.) just after the six-minute mark.
Sophomore Nate Sucese (Fairport, N.Y.) returned the favor seconds prior to the 12-minute mark with help from Brandon Biro (Sherwood Park, Alb.) and Erik Autio (Espoo, Finland) after Autio’s shot rebounded to teammate Biro, who then passed the puck to Sucese.
The Fighting Irish kept Penn State on their toes, however, and three minutes later returned with a vengeance. Using a power play to their advantage, Notre Dame took the puck to the right side of the crease and found the back of the net for the 2-1 lead.
Never ones to give up, Penn State rallied with just over four minutes to go in the first period. Biro hustled the puck into the Notre Dame defensive zone and, after an initial rebound, Biro collected his own shot and ripped a second slammer into the twine for a 2-2 tie as the first period came to a close.
A tense yet scoreless second period gave way to an intermission that was no doubt filled with fire in each locker room – both teams wanting to come out and finish the game strong.
The third period had fans of both schools on the edges of their seats for nearly the full 20 minutes. It was only with 31 seconds to go did Notre Dame find a break in Penn State’s defense and put the puck behind Jones for the winning goal and 3-2 victory for the Fighting Irish.
Despite the tough loss, the Lions played their hearts out against a team that has given them a challenge time and time again. Jones played one of his best games yet, recording 44 saves for Penn State. The Lions tallied 45 shots on Notre Dame.
The Blue and White now enter the NCAA Tournament, and their first game will be played on Saturday, March 24 in Allentown, opponent TBA. Stay tuned for the Lions’ final efforts of the season!