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RECAP: Penn State hockey opened Big Ten play vs. Notre Dame

The Penn State hockey officially entered conference play against Notre Dame over the weekend. But, how did the Nittany Lions fare against the Fighting Irish?



Penn State hockey, Notre Dame
Mar 14, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Penn State's Evan Bell (7) looks to shoot against Note Dame at the Compton Family Ice Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael Caterina/South Bend Tribune-USA TODAY NETWORK

Penn State hockey opened conference play at Pegula Ice Arena against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish this weekend, looking to get back on track. The past two weeks saw the Nittany Lions suffer stunning defeats at the hands of American International and Alaska Anchorage. These losses put a damper on the Lion’s postseason hopes, even if it is early in the year. The way to creep back into the picture is to start stacking wins in a loaded Big Ten conference. The first opportunity for the Lions to get these wins came against a young, but talented, Notre Dame team this weekend.

Saturday Night

First Period

Things started rather inauspiciously for Penn State on Saturday. Just over a minute into the game, Notre Dame was able to get one past sophomore goaltender Noah Grannon. Grannon got the start of senior Liam Souliere after back-to-back weekends with shaky performance.

Notre Dame was then content to play their brand of hockey, one that has stifled Penn State for years. They do a great job of clogging the neutral zone and the shot lanes, often preventing any good offensive chances for the opposition. 

This was the case until the last few minutes of the period when a shot from the point was tipped by junior forward Danny Dzhaniyev into the goal to tie the game at one apiece. That is Dzhaniyev’s fourth of the year, tying him for the team lead. 

The period ended with the score of 1-1, with shots fairly even at 12-11 Penn State. The even shot count is a testament to Notre Dame’s defensive structure, as Penn State often outshoots its opponents by a large margin. 

Second Period

The second period got off to a rather choppy start. There were three penalties within the first five minutes, one on the Irish and two on the Nittany Lions. The third penalty resulted in a Notre Dame power play. The Irish were able to capitalize on the advantage and retake the lead.

The penalty-filled period would continue, including a very rare faceoff violation call on Penn State. Penn State would get their chance on the power play after a Notre Dame tripping call. They needed all of five seconds to tie the game when junior forward Dylan Lugris potted his third goal of the season, poking a loose rebound home. 

It wouldn’t take long for Penn State to take the lead. Junior forward Xander Lamppa collected a loose puck off of a forecheck and drove the goal, faking a backhand shot to deke out the goaltender, and then going back to the forehand for the goal. 

The Nittany Lions would take that lead into the third period. It was a more charismatic period for the Nittany Lions, outshooting Notre Dame 10-7.

Third Period

The penalty fest would continue into the third period, but this time mainly against the Nittany Lions. The first penalty was killed off with ease. On the second penalty, a cross-checking call, the Nittany Lions committed another faceoff violation. This gave Notre Dame a full two minutes at five-on-three. They were able to knot the game up at three. 

For the first time this year, 60 minutes of hockey wouldn’t be enough. Neither team could break through in the latter part of the period and the game would go to overtime. 


With both teams wanting to keep possession of the puck during the three-on-three overtime, there wasn’t much in the way of chances for the first part of the overtime. Penn State would take an ill-advised penalty, which would give Notre Dame a power play, just needing a goal to end it. 

The Penn State penalty kill would stand strong, however. They would kill off the penalty and send the game to a shootout. Nationally, the game will count as a time, making the Nittany Lions record 5-2-1. The shootout counts only for the Big Ten standings, with an extra point up for grabs. 


Notre Dame would shoot first and get denied. Danny Dzhaniyev would be up first for Penn State, and his backhand attempt was turned aside. Grannon denied Notre Dame again on their second attempt. Junior forward attempted to go five-hole on his attempt but was shut down. Notre Dame scored on their third attempt, meaning Dylan Lugris would need to score to keep the shootout alive. He could not and Notre Dame picked up the extra point in the Big Ten standings. 

Sunday Night

First Period

Looking for a win tonight, Penn State would toy with their lineup, including changing goaltenders. Liam Souliere would get the start, despite a valiant performance from Grannon in Saturday’s tie. He would have many opportunities in the first period, a period that was dominated by Penn State. Aided by three Notre Dame penalties, Penn State outshot the Irish 20-8.

While it is atypical for a Penn State team can outshoot a Notre Dame team like that, the result was all the same. Great goaltending from the Irish kept the Nittany Lions off the board. 

Second Period

When Liam Souilere was tested for the first time, it didn’t end well for the Nittany Lions. Notre Dame broke the ice under five minutes into the second period. 

It would only take another four minutes for them to add another and put Penn State behind by two goals. It looked as if the game was going to start slipping away from the Nittany Lions, headed towards another loss in the second game of a series. 

A Notre Dame penalty shortly thereafter, however, shifted the momentum even if Penn State didn’t score. The rest of the period was chippy, with both teams taking an unsportsmanlike conduct call. This period was more typical of a Penn State-Notre Dame contest, with the Irish winning the shot battle 15-12. Penn State would head into the intermission in need of a two-goal comeback. 

Third Period

The third period started just about as well as Penn State could have hoped for. Just under two minutes in, freshman forward Aiden Fink showed why he was such a highly touted prospect coming into the year. He was able to pick the top corner on the Notre Dame goaltender to cut the lead in half. Fellow freshman forward Matt DiMarsico assisted on the play but took a huge hit doing so. He needed to be helped off the ice and went into the locker room. 

With the lead cut in half, the Nittany Lions smelt blood. They kept peppering the Notre Dame net to no avail. It looked as if it would be a typical Penn State-Notre Dame ending, with the Lions getting stonewalled to the end.

With under a minute to play and the Penn State net empty, Danny Dzhaniyev fired a shot at the Notre Dame goal. The goalie couldn’t control the rebound. There was a lot of poking and prodigy until the puck came free to Dylan Lugris who put it into the net to tie the game. It was not dissimilar to his goal on Saturday. 

The game, along with a revived and raucous crowd, would head to overtime for the second straight night. 


This overtime would have more open ice the night before, and each time at times when it looked like they would end it. But just as we would on Saturday, this game would need a shootout. Again, officially this ends as a tie, moving the Nittany Lions to 5-2-2. 


The shootout would start very similarly to Saturday as well. With Penn State shooting first tonight, the first two shooters for each side would miss. Xander Lamppa would be up next for Penn State. He was able to fake two forehand shots to get the Notre Dame goaltender to drop and then fired it into the top shelf. The next shooter for Notre Dame missed, giving Penn State the extra point in the Big Ten standings for a total of three this weekend.

Next Up

Penn State will head back on the road, this time to Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, Michigan to take on the Michigan State Spartans. The games will be Friday at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday at 4:00 p.m.

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Jaret is a Penn State alum who covers Penn State sports for Basic Blues Nation. He is very passionate about the Nittany Lions and loves sharing his passion for the school through writing.


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