Win and you play at home next weekend! Having something to play for, gives an athlete extra motivation to win. The Irish also need to win so they can increase their chances of making it into the NCAA Tournament. Currently sitting at 17th in the standings, a win against Penn State is a must. Friday night is also the night before Senior Night. Underclassmen want to send the Seniors out the right way. There is a lot of emotion in situations like this, the question is how does the team handle it?
To start the game the Irish came out on fire. In the first six minutes of the first period, the Irish had eight shots on goal. At 13:30 Freshman Jake Pivonka puts a laser on goal and scores. After two reviews by officials, one review called it a goal, the second review took it away. The call was “too many men on the ice” for the Irish. As easy as the goal was scored, the officials took it away. PSU took advantage of the wind being taken out of the Irish sails. At 18:33 Denis Smirnov tucks in on the glove side of Cale Morris. Momentum definitely shifted towards PSU. PSU takes a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
Keeping the momentum is important for PSU to maintain. PSU did just that. At 00:13 PSU, Liam Polkes from just out the crease puts the puck into the back of the net. PSU goes up 2-0. The Irish continue to fight the battle and try to crawl out of the deficit they were in early. The hard work they were putting in resulted in another goal by PSU five minutes later at 5:17 by Nate Sucese from just outside the crease again from Morris’ left side. PSU is now up 3-0 early in the second.
The jubilation that PSU was riding on came to a brief halt. 30 seconds after PSU scores, a power play opportunity opens up for the Fighting Irish. Eleven seconds into the power play, Matt Hellickson stops the bleeding and he nets one for the Irish to get them on the board 3-1.
PSU continued to keep traffic in front of the net and keep Morris busy. As the PSU continued to dominate the second period, Brandon Biro nets the third goal of the second period. This time from just inside the crease. PSU takes a 4-1 lead with 6:25 remaining in the period. Not to be out done , the Fighting Irish continue to battle for the win. At 15:0, Cal Burke takes the feed from Colin Theisen and Cam Morrison to light the lamp and breath new life into the Irish and their fans.
The Irish with some fight left in the tank, take another deficit into the second intermission 4-2.
Sometime you can sense what can possibly happen when a team is backed against the wall. The Fighting Irish didn’t get their name by just taking it easy. They got it for being persistent and not giving up. The third period was epic in in nature.
After completing a successful, roll-over penalty kill from the second period, the Irish had some unfinished work to finish. After exchanging blows on on both ends of the ice. Mike O’Leary knew what needed to be done. At 4:47 O’Leary finds daylight and finds a way to put the puck between the pipes. The Irish start the climb out of the and come back within a goal at 4-3. After a flurry of pucks being fired into the Irish defensive end by PSU, an opportunity arises for the Irish. Matt Steeves steps into a moment in which he puts the equalizer on the board.
Both sides knowing how important a win is, both teams tighten up and the defenses kick in. Maybe just a bit too much for PSU. With 53 seconds left in regulation, Nikita Pavlychev get 2 game misconduct calls against himself. A
Major Penalty 5 minutes for CONTACT TO THE HEAD, and a Game Misconduct Penalty 10 minutes for CONTACT TO THE HEAD. This set the Irish up for a 5 on 3 advantage for 53 seconds. Unable to capitalize in the 53 seconds in regulation, PSU and ND go into Sudden Death Overtime.
With the end of regulation, the 5 on 3 advantage went to a 5 on 4 advantage. Coaches do not like hockey beyond the sixty minutes in regulation. It’s a very stressful time for them. The Irish wanted to make sure Coach Jackson didn’t get to stressed out as the took care of business 1:37 into the the overtime period.
Coach Jackson Press Conference
Shake Down The Thunder Sports question to Coach Jackson: “we have talked all season about the age of the team, you have a very young team and now you have come this far in the season and now you get to play home next weekend how does that feel?”
Coach Jackson’s response: “I am glad we got home ice, but there is part of me that wishes we were on the road, or best opportunity it gives us last change, but you got to win two games and in this league, I will be surprised if there is any two game sweeps in the playoffs , everyone is so close its challenging.
Shake Down The Thunder Sports question to Coach Jackson: ” When you guys went down two goals, was there any concern about Morris and his focus?”
Coach Jackson’s response: ” I was talking to the coaches behind the bench after the fourth and thinking about putting Dylan in, but I was not going to do it in the middle of a period.”
Mike O’Leary Press Conference
Mike O’Leary came in after Coach Jackson and addressed the media.
Shake Down The Thunder Sports question to Mike O’Leary: “Talk about the chemistry you, Malmquist and graham have developed.”
Mike O’Leary’s response: “It’s funny we are all super-easy going guys, off the ice, we get along well off the ice, it helps us on the ice, we are all vocal guys too, we all bring something different to the table.”
Shake Down The Thunder Sports had a follow up question to Mike O’Leary: “What can you take from tonights win and carry forward to the B1G Conference tournament and hopefully into the NCAA tournament?”
Mike O’Leary’s response: “We Penn State is agood as any team we are going to play, especially offensively. So, i think for us its knowing we can come back in a game which is something we haven’t been able to do all year. We are never out of games at this point.”
Stars Of the Game
⭐⭐⭐ Cole Hults PSU 2 Assists
☘☘ Cale Morris 31 Saves
☘ Mike O’Leary 2 Goals
The Irish wrap up the regular season Saturday night against PSU. Seniors Joe Wegwerth, Jake Jenkins, Dylan Malmquist and Bobby Nardella will be honored in a pre-game ceremony. Puck drop is at 7 PM EST
Cheers and Go Irish!☘⚡