A matchup of two of the nation’s top scoring teams turned into a defensive battle, and the Penn State men’s hockey team ended up on the wrong end.
Bo Brauer scored the only goal and goaltender Cale Morris took care of the rest as No. 6 Notre Dame blanked the No. 19 Nittany Lions 1-0 Saturday afternoon.
Penn State (5-7, 2-4 Big Ten) suffered its first weekend sweep after splitting each of its previous series this season. The shutout was the Lions’ first since March 11 at Michigan, and just their third since the start of the 2015-16 season. The series against the Wolverines also was the last time the Nittany Lions lost both games of a weekend set.
Penn State had its best defensive performance since Oct. 13 at Minnesota, a 3-1 win. Since then, the Nittany Lions had allowed at least three goals in eight straight games, six times giving up at least five goals.
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“We were struggling in a number of areas defensively and I thought this was probably our most consistent weekend with that against an excellent team,” coach Guy Gadowsky told the media in South Bend, Ind. “We’re grinding right now with new guys in and out of the lineup, but we’re grinding and I think we’ll be better off for it down the road.”
Players of the game
In a battle of goalies, Notre Dame’s Morris outdueled Peyton Jones. Morris made 33 saves for his first collegiate shutout. Among his stops was a denial of a Brandon Biro breakaway in the second period.
Jones had 26 stops for his best outing since the first two weeks of the season.
“Tonight I thought our goaltender was excellent,” Gadowsky said. “Our team defense was very good as well.”
Short scoring summary
Brauer scored at 14:12 of the second period, as the Fighting Irish (8-3-1, 4-0) peppered Jones with shots. Brauer pounced on a loose puck and lifted it over Jones’ shoulder.
Heading into the weekend, the Lions and Irish were top-10 nationally in scoring, averaging 3.8 and 3.6 goals per game.
“The whole weekend, I thought it was two excellent hockey games,” Gadowsky said. “Tonight was not quite our game, but I thought we adapted pretty well.”
Penn State has its longest road trip next weekend, making its first visit to Arizona State on Friday and Saturday.