NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Mike O’Leary scored twice, including the game-winner 1:37 into overtime, as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish overcame a 4-1 deficit to defeat Penn State 5-4 Friday night at Compton Family Ice Arena (4,238).
With the victory the Fighting Irish (18-12-3, 11-10-2-2 B1G) clinch home ice next weekend in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament (best-of-three). Penn State falls to 18-13-2 overall and 10-12-1-1 in the Big Ten.
“I think it’s the first time in a while that it’s happened,” Head Coach Jeff Jackson said about the comeback. “We’ve been resilient but we haven’t been able to get over that hump. Tonight we came back, scored a couple key goals and it gave us the chance to win it in overtime.”
Notre Dame controlled the play early, outshooting the Nittany Lions 12-3 at one point but could not get on the board. It appeared Jake Pivonka broke the deadlock with 6:30 left in the frame, but the goal was waved off as it was ruled the Irish had jumped early while changing behind the play.
Penn State took a one-goal lead into the first intermission after Denis Smirnov opened the scoring with 1:27 remaining in the period.
Liam Folkes doubled the Nittany Lions’ lead when he converted during a net-front scramble just 13 seconds into the second stanza. Then, Nate Sucese put home a rebound to make it a 3-0 contest just over five minutes later.
Matt Hellickson got the Irish on the board with a power-play marker from the left circle just 41 seconds after Sucese’s tally.
The Nittany Lions regained their three-goal lead on an unassisted marker by Brandon Biro with 6:25 to go in the period, but Cal Burke brought the Irish back within two less than two minutes later.
O’Leary’s first of the game came on a rebound at 4:47 of the third period to cut the Penn State lead to 4-3. Just over four minutes later, Matt Steeves scored from the slot to tie it at 4-4 with his third of the season.
Both sides traded chances the rest of the final period, but were unable to net the go-ahead goal in regulation. With 53 seconds left, Penn State’s Nikita Pavlychev received a five minute major and a game misconduct for contact to the head and the Irish started overtime with an extended power play.
O’Leary’s game-winning goal came on the man advantage 1:37 into the extra frame.
The goaltenders were busy, with Cale Morris totaling 31 saves and Peyton Jones making 35 stops in the Penn State net.
Notre Dame was two-for-five on the power play, while the Nittany Lions were 0-for-1.
Notre Dame Goal Descriptions
3-1 PSU | Matt Hellickson got the Irish on the board with a wrister from the left circle. The goal came 10 seconds into the man advantage as the Nittany Lions sat in the box for hooking. With assists to Tory Dello and Cam Morrison, the tally came less than a minute after the visitors had extended their lead to three.
4-2 PSU | Cal Burke found the back of the net as he snuck behind Nittany Lions’ goaltender, Jones. Colin Theisen fired the initial shot on net before Burke picked up the rebound and buried it home. Cam Morrison posted the second assist on the goal, his second of the night.
4-3 PSU | As the puck bounced off the pads of Nittany Lions’ goaltender, Jones, an outstretched Mike O’Leary snagged the puck and shot it into the open net to bring the game within one. Spencer Stastney recorded the primary assist, taking the initial saved shot while Dylan Malmquist earned the second assist.
4-4 | With a scramble along the boards, Jack Jenkins passed the puck over to Pierce Crawford who found Matt Steeves positioned in front to toss a quick shot passed the goaltender and into the back of the net to tie the game at four goals a piece.
5-4 OT | Mike O’Leary buried his second of the night off a pass from Dylan Malmquist to post the overtime game-winner. O’Leary spun to his right, breaking the screen and beating Penn State’s goaltender to the puck. Bobby Nardella earned the second assist on the goal.
Notre Dame and Penn State close out the regular season at 7 p.m. on Saturday night at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Tickets: UND.com/BuyTickets.
The Irish will honor seniors Jack Jenkins, Dylan Malmquist, Bobby Nardella and Joe Wegwerth in a pregame ceremony. Jim Cornelison of the Chicago Blackhawks will sing the national anthem as part of the senior night festivities and early arriving fans will receive a senior class poster. Pittsburgh Penguins’ organist Tim DeBacco will serve as the guest organist for the series finale as well.
- The Irish are 15-0-1 this season when scoring at least three goals.
- Mike O’Leary notched his first career two-goal game and it marked his fourth multipoint game of of his season/career.
- Before tonight’s comeback victory, the Irish were 0-12-2 when trailing in the third period this season.
- The first 6:24 of the game was played without a whistle.
- With a goal and an assist, junior Cal Burke posted his fifth multi-point game of the season and the 11th of his career.
- With an assist, junior Cam Morrison posted his third straight season with at least 10 assists (12 as a freshman, 15 as a sophomore).
- Sophomore Matt Hellickson scored his career-best fourth goal of the season.
- Junior Tory Dello tied his career high with his 11th assist of the season (set as a freshman in 2016-17).
- Senior Dylan Malmquist notched two assists for his sixth multipoint game of the season and the 17th of his career.
Trio Up For Hobey Vote
- It was announced on Jan. 16 that forward Cal Burke, goaltender Cale Morris and defenseman Bobby Nardella have each been selected to Phase One of the Hobey Baker Award’s fan ballot (vote at www.hobeybaker.com).
- Awarded annually to college hockey’s top player, the Hobey Baker award includes candidates exhibiting the exceptional character traits of the award’s namesake, Hobey Baker, with consideration given to scholastic achievement and sportsmanship.
- Morris, who was awarded the 2018 Mike Richter Award as college hockey’s top goaltender, was named a Top-10 Finalist for the Hobey Baker Award last season.
- Morris was the fourth player in Notre Dame history to be among the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker, joining Anders Bjork (2017), David Brown (2007) and Dave Poulin (1982).
- Morris, a Larkspur, Colorado, native, was also the first player from the Centennial State to play his way into the Hobey Top 10.
- The Fan Balloting (Phase I) of the Hobey Baker award calendar will continue until March 10.
- On March 20, the Top 10 Finalists will be announced, at which time Phase II Fan Balloting will begin and run through March 31.
- The Hobey Hat Trick Finalist Announcement will be made on April 4.
- The 2019 Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced from a field of three Hobey Hat Trick finalists on Friday, April 12, during the 2019 NCAA Frozen Four Championship in Buffalo, New York.
— ND —