When it comes to milestone wins, this one ranks right up there.
The Penn State men’s hockey team left Notre Dame’s Compton Family Ice Arena on Saturday night with a statement to the rest of the college hockey world.
Thanks to an Andrew Sturtz overtime goal, the Nittany Lions stunned No. 3 Notre Dame 3-2, to go with a tie the previous night.
“It’s hard to close a team like that out,” Sturtz said after the game of beating the talented Irish. “They’re a good skating team and they have a lot of skill up front.”
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The Fighting Irish (3-2-1) are the highest-ranked opponent beaten by the Nittany Lions (3-1-1), bettering a victory over then-No. 4 Massachusetts-Lowell in 2014.
The weekend result joins major Big Ten wins over Michigan and Minnesota, as important moments in the program’s young history.
James Robinson and Nate Sucese scored the other Penn State goals and Peyton Jones made 26 saves in the biggest win of his young career.
Jordan Gross and Joe Wegwerth had the Notre Dame goals with 30 saves for goalie Cal Petersen.
The winner for Sturtz was highlight worthy.
Having just stepped onto the ice, the sophomore skated down the ice on a 2 on 1 with Denis Smirnov, sprung free after a long feed from Jones at the other end. He put an initial shot on Petersen that was denied, but Sturtz dragged his stick just enough to gather the rebound and slip the puck past the goalie and ignite a celebration in a mob of blue jerseys.
“I went back end,” Sturtz said of his initial try, “Cal Petersen made a good initial save, I just got a rebound and put it up over his pad.”
An Irish turnover led to the night’s first goal, with Alec Marsh poking the puck to Ricky DeRosa at the blue line, sending a diagonal pass to Robinson, who fought off a Notre Dame defender to flick in the puck. It was Robinson’s first goal of the season.
A Gross wrist shot from the high slot in the second period was good for his fourth goal of the season, and was the first power play goal allowed by Penn State this season. The Nittany Lions had stuffed the first 27 man advantage situations they faced this season.
Early in the third, Sucese skated up the left side in a 2 on 1 break with Sturtz. The freshman elected to keep the puck and beat Petersen with the wrist shot for his fourth goal of the year.
Notre Dame tied it again midway through the third. Late on a power play, and during a delayed second penalty against the Nittany Lions, Wegwerth took a feed from behind the net by Jake Evans while on the doorstep and beat Jones to tie it.
It brought overtime and a spectacular moment for Sturtz and the Nittany Lions.
Notes: Penn State is back home next weekend, hosting Canisius on Friday and Saturday. … The Nittany Lions and Fighting Irish will meet four times next season when Notre Dame joins the Big Ten for hockey. … After a major deficit in Friday’s game, Penn State was far superior in faceoffs Saturday, 35-22. … The Nittany Lions were 0 for 5 on power plays, the Irish were 2 for 6.