It was not the greeting to a new season the Penn State hockey team, or its fans, wanted to see Friday night.
Notre Dame spoiled the party big time.
Behind Steven Fogarty’s hat trick, the Fighting Irish poured on the offense in a 7-4 win at Pegula Ice Arena.
“They’re a very good hockey team — we knew that,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “But at times I thought we looked pretty good as well.”
Freshman Alec Marsh scored his first two career goals, and Dylan Richard also scored twice for the Nittany Lions (1-1), who only suffered one loss at home in regulation all of last season — 2-1 to Minnesota.
Andy Ryan added two goals for Notre Dame (1-0), Mario Lucia had a goal and two assists, Thomas DiPauli netted the other goal, and Sam Herr collected three assists.
It was a rough outing for goalie Matthew Skoff, who gave up all seven goals and made just 14 saves before being pulled in the third period.
“We put him in a pretty tough position,” Gadowsky said. “We gave some excellent hockey players Grade A opportunities.”
The team was playing without four regular starters because of injury or illness, and had seven freshmen in the lineup.
“I’m not blaming it on our young freshmen at all,” Gadowsky said. “We made a few tweaks in the defensive zone, and I don’t think we’re all on the same page yet.”
Goalie Chris Funkey then made his debut, stopping three shots in just over 13 minutes of ice time to relieve Skoff, to put an eighth newcomer on the ice.
“By the way things shook out,” Gadowsky said, “we had a chance to see those freshmen and hopefully that’ll benefit us down the road.”
Spotting the Fighting Irish a 5-1 lead, goals from Marsh and Richard in the final two-plus minutes of the second period seemed to give the Nittany Lions momentum into the intermission and third period.
But the pendulum swung back to Notre Dame with a Lucia goal 1:40 into the third and the hopes of 6,103 on hand were dashed.
“That’s something that’s a positive sign for me, having the ability to respond,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. “It could have gone the other way. I assume, coming out in the third, they’d have all the momentum. That next goal is huge.”
DiPauli put the Irish on the board first, redirecting a puck fired by Jordan Gross from the point through a maze of players. Skoff could hardly keep track of the ricocheting puck.
Not long after, Penn State went on a power play and began peppering the goal. In a mad scramble, with the puck sitting in the crease behind Cal Peterson, Richard poked it into the net.
The tie did not last long — less than three minutes — when Ryan sent a rifle shot from the point past Skoff, on just the third shot of the game for the Irish against Penn State’s 14 to that point. Another 3 1/2 minutes after that Fogarty was loose on a breakaway to get the best of Skoff.
Fogarty made it 4-1 7:04 into the second, lifting the puck over Skoff’s shoulder, and the New York Rangers’ draft pick completed the hat trick 10 minutes later.
“I’ve been waiting for this day,” Jackson said. “He’s the guy that I always felt had the ability. It’s just one game though.”
The run was ended by goals from Marsh and Richard 46 seconds apart late in the third.
“We’re confident in the way we play,” Richard said. “We can create chances and we can score some goals. Definitely the last couple goals there late in the second definitely raised our confidence for the third.”
But Lucia swung the momentum back Notre Dame’s way, and Ryan scored just over two minutes later to chase Skoff.
“Momentum’s important with any team,” Gadowsky said. “Especially when you have a crowd like we do, I think when you get going, they certainly help. You try to get that snowball rolling a little bit. We’ve seen it here at Pegula before. We weren’t able to sustain it.”
Marsh finished the scoring, wrapping the puck around the post six minutes into the third.
“It’s a great college hockey environment,” Jackson said of the Pegula Ice Arena show. “That’s what makes this game special. It’s just a matter of time before they really get it going here.”