Comeback Bid Falls Short as No. 9 Penn State Drops a 5-4 Decision to No. 5 Notre Dame

by | Dec 8, 2018 | Headlines, RRSN News | 0 comments

Comeback Bid Falls Short as No. 9 Penn State Drops a 5-4 Decision to No. 5 Notre Dame

For Immediate Press Release – Friday, December 7, 2018


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – A third-period comeback bid fell short as No. 5 Notre Dame held on for the victory defeating No. 9 Penn State, 5-4, in Big Ten Conference action this evening at Pegula Ice Arena.
The Loss drops the Nittany Lions to 10-5-1 on the year and 2-4-1-1 in conference action while the Irish improve to 11-4-1 overall and 5-2-0-0 in Big Ten action.


  • Penn State wasted little time getting on the board first as freshman Aarne Talvitie (Espoo, Finland) caused a defensive zone turnover and went coast-to-coast ripping a wrist-shot over the blocker of Notre Dame net-minder Cale Morris from the left circle for the 1-0 lead just 70 seconds into the contest.
  • The Irish responded as Cam Morrison fed Matt Hellickson out front for the equalizer at 3:55 of the opening frame.
  • Notre Dame grabbed the lead early in the second period scoring twice in just 1:25 as Morrison redirected a shot from the point that went through the five-hole of PSU goaltender Chris Funkey (Orland Park, Ill.) at 2:24 before Mike O’Leary finished off a feed from behind the net pushing the visitor lead to 3-1 at 3:49 and ending the night for Funkey as he was relieved by freshman Oskar Autio (Espoo, Finland).
  • The Nittany Lions responded cutting the deficit in half as sophomore Cole Hults (Stoughton, Wis.) redirected a shot out front off freshman Paul DeNaples’ (Moscow, Pa.) initial bid from the point for the 3-2 score at 13:58 of the middle stanza.
  • The Irish answered with a power-play tally as Andrew Peeke ripped a one-timer over the glove of Autio from the left dot for the 4-2 edge at 17:39 of the period.
  • Junior Denis Smirnov (Moscow, Russia) used some fancy moves dancing through the offensive zone before sending a backhand shot over the glove of Morris for the 4-3 score at 6:30 of the third period.
  • Notre Dame responded again just 89 seconds later as Matt Steeves jammed in a shot on the right side of the net for the 5-3 margin at 7:59 of the final frame.
  • Penn State again cut the deficit to a single-goal as junior Nate Sucese (Fairport, N.Y.) finished off a great behind-the-back feed from senior Ludvig Larsson (Malmo, Sweden) for the 5-4 deficit at 14:58 of the final stanza.

Funkey stopped just three-of-six shots over the first 23:49 of game action while Autio falls to 0-1-0 on the year after collecting 16 saves during the final 34:23 of the contest. Morris improves to 8-4-1 with his fifth-straight victory after collecting 44 saves.

Q: The line pairing of [Brandon] Biro and [Nate] Sucese has been one that a lot of people have perceived to be set in stone. What made you make that change tonight?
A: Nate did score a goal and played very well but also, I thought that Ludvig Larsson was awesome. I thought this was absolutely Denis’ [Smirnov] best game. It was done because we’ve been getting a lot of production out of two lines and the two lines that weren’t, we believe that they’re such great players, we feel that we should be getting more production out of them. It was just a shakeup. A lot of it wasn’t about Nate or Biro, it actually had to do with trying to get Luda and Denis going, that’s what it was about.

Q: You’re winless in six games against Notre Dame since they joined the Big Ten. Jeff Jackson just said any of those games could have gone either way. Is there a pattern that you think is maybe holding you back or does each game have a different theme?
A: No. There’s been a pretty common theme and his name is Cale Morris as far as I’m concerned. I’m just calling a spade a spade. They’re and excellent team. They do a lot of excellent things. They have a lot of great players. Their systems are great. They’re extremely well coached. They do a ton of things really, really well. This is a number of times now, where in my mind, I thought the difference was Cale Morris and you just have to tip your cap to him. He’s an excellent goaltender and it’s not a coincidence why he continues to get the numbers he does. They do a lot of things well, but at the top of that list is Cale Morris.


  • This weekend marks just the fourth regular-season series in program history with both teams ranked inside the top-10 nationally and only the second at Pegula Ice Arena dating back to February 17-18, 2017 against Minnesota.
  • By limiting Notre Dame to just a pair of shots in the opening period, Penn State tied its program record for fewest shots allowed in a period, which they have now done three times, the last time coming on March 15, 2016 against Wisconsin. The Irish only had three total shot attempts in the period.
  • Penn State held the commanding 48-24 edge in shots, but went 0-for-4 on the power-play while Notre dame went 1-for-3 with the man-advantage.
  • Morris allowed four goals in the contest after allowing four total during his previous four starts.
  • The line of sophomores Evan Barratt and Alex Limoges along with junior Liam Folkes was kept off the scoresheet for the first time in 16 games as the trio failed to find the back of the net for the first time this season.
  • Freshman Paul DeNaples (Moscow, Pa.) paced the team with a plus-3 rating while collecting a pair of assists marking his second multi-point effort this season.
  • Larsson also collected a pair of assists securing his third multi-point game this season and the 13th of his career.
  • Penn State is now just 2-6-2 against Notre Dame including a 0-5-1 mark since the Irish joined the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions are now winless in four-straight games (0-3-1).


  • Both teams return tomorrow night to close out the weekend series with a 7 p.m. puck drop at Pegula Ice Arena.
  • Penn State will hold its annual Teddy Bear Toss during the second intermission.

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