At the start of the 2018/2019 hockey season there were questions on how the young team would do. With the loss of key players to graduation and early exits for the NHL, the season posed an uphill challenge for the young Fightin’ Irish team. Staying with that mindset, there’s an old cliche, “It’s not how you start, It’s how you finish.” The focus of this team coming into the night needed to be, if you lose, you are not going to advance to the NCAA Frozen Four Tournament. That is a lot to play for, all they need to do is complete the mission and beat the Nittany Lions.
There is no doubt that PSU came to play. To start the period, PSU came out firing on ND Goalie Cale Morris. Their three shots were on target, only to be blocked by Cale “Brickwall” Morris. The next shots either went wide or was blocked by Andrew Peeke. The Irish were on the their heels playing a boat load of defense. That quickly changed at the 3:43 mark in the period thanks to Freshman Spencer Stastney putting the puck in the net getting it past Peyton Jones. He picked the right game and the right time for his first collegiate goal.
The Irish goal did not slow the Nittany Lions. Actually the reverse happened. The assault on the Irish defense continued. The assault of shots either on goal or blocked by the defense was eight. The ninth shot by the Nittany Lions could not be stopped by the the defense or even Morris. At the 8:04 point Sam Sternschein fired a shot from the right hand face-off circle to get the equalizer. At 9:49 Cal Burke goes to the penalty box for slashing. That’s the last thing you want to do against PSU, give them a man advantage. Luckily for the Irish they were able to kill off the penalty and get back to full strength.
Defensive play was back for both teams, chasing the puck on all parts of the ice. Both teams trying to find that one opportunity to take advantage of. At 16:19 Cal Burke paid back his penalty that put his team a man down. From in front of the crease Burke fires the puck past Jones for the Irish second goal of the game in the period.
PSU wasn’t going to let the game slip away from them in the first period. At 16:53 Alec Marsh returned the favor and blasted the puck by Morris from in front of the net. Again an equalizer in short work for the Nittany Lions. PSU would fire five more shots on goal before the end of the period. None of those shots would get past Morris before the end of the period.
Morris weathered the storm from the Nittany Lions. PSU attempted 29 shots to the Irish 21. 18 of those attempts were on target in which Morris saved 16. The Irish had 12 shots on target, in which Jones saved 10 of them. This was only the first period. What would the second period have in store for the capacity filled Compton Family Ice Arena?
PSU came out firing like they did in the first period. The Irish seemed to be playing defense most of the period. At 2:00 Cam Morrison went to the penalty for boarding putting the Irish down a man again. The Irish killed the penalty, but not before the Nittany Lions fired three shots on goal. From the time the power play started till about the 16:43, Morris fought off 16 shots on goal in which ZERO of them got by.
At 18:24, just like his teammate Cal Burke did in the first period, Morrison paid back for his lost time on the ice. From the right face-off circle Morrison fired a laser past Jones to put the Irish up 3-2 before the second Intermission.
PSU attempted 26 shots compared to the Irish 15 shots. 18 of those 26 shots were on target and none of them got by Morris. Nine of the 15 shots were on target and one of those could not be stopped by Jones. It was quality versus quantity for the Irish, that’s all that mattered. The Irish took a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
The Important part of the third period is that the Irish did not allow the Nittany Lions to score. Going into the third period the the Nittany Lions had 34 shots on goal with 55 shots attempted. The third period saw another 30 shots attempted to bring their final total to 85. The Nittany Lions put 46 shots on goal and Morris only missed two. That is just an amazing stat. PSU even tried adding an extra attacker by pulling their goalie. That strategy failed as well.
On the other end of the ice, The Nittany Lions spread out the the Irish offense and limited them to 14 shots attempted, while only half of those were on goal. The Irish defense played their heart out to ensure the Irish would repeat as B1G CHAMPIONS in front of a capacity crowd of 5,988 (Compton Family Ice Arena record) and Coach Jackson’s 500th career win!
B1G Conference Championship Ceremony
B1G All-Tournament Team
Prior to the tournament trophy presentation, the B1G recognized for Irish players to the All-Tournament Team. Goalie Cale Morris, Defensemen Spencer Stastney/Andrew Peeke and Forward Cam Morrison. Cale Morris named the B1G Men’s Tournament Most Outstanding Player for the second consecutive year.
Stars Of The Game
☘☘☘ Cal Burke
☘☘ Spencer Stastney
☘ Cale Morris 46 Saves
Next Stop The Frozen Four Tournament
With the B1G Championship win the Irish automatically qualified for the NCAA Frozen Four Tournament. On Sunday night the team learned who they will be paired against. #3 Notre Dame will face #2 Clarkson at SNHU Arena in Manchester NH. The game is slated for a 6:30 PM EST start and will be aired on ESPNU. For full details on the tournament bracket click here.
Cheers and Go Irish!!! ☘