Notre Dame’s hockey players pumped their fists in celebration in the waning moments of Saturday night’s Big Ten championship, while Penn State’s could only look on helplessly.
The Nittany Lions watched their season end in a tight 3-2 loss to the Fighting Irish in South Bend, Ind. It was Notre Dame’s second straight conference title.
Penn State had plenty of opportunities. It even boasted several close scrambles in the final minutes in front of Notre Dame’s net. But Irish goalie Cale Morris proved to be the game’s difference-maker.
Morris was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after stopping 46 shots against Penn State. The Nittany Lions lost despite out-shooting Notre Dame 48-29.
Saturday night was a historic one for the Irish. Coach Jeff Jackson recorded his 500th career win, and Notre Dame punched its ticket to a record fourth straight NCAA Tournament in front of a record-breaking crowd of 5,988.
Player of the game: Notre Dame goalie Cale Morris
Forty-six saves. Does anymore really need to be said?
Notre Dame never trailed, and Penn State never scored outside of the first period. Without Morris, Penn State might have been the winner. With Morris, this Irish team has potential this postseason.
“We’re just getting started,” Morris told Big Ten Network.
Turning point: Crucial Morris saves in the first period
Noticing a trend yet? Morris was the difference in just about every part of this game.
In the first period, Penn State boasted two solid chances on a Denis Smirnov breakaway and an Alex Limoges 2-on-1. But, each time, Morris denied Penn State the opportunity to take a lead.
The Nittany Lions outplayed the Irish in the opening period, even outshooting them 18-12, but Penn State could only muster a 2-2 tie. It seemed as if the Nittany Lions should have at least had a one-goal lead, but Morris’ performance made sure that wasn’t the case.
Notre Dame ‘s game-winner proved to be a late second-period goal by Cam Morrison.
All-tournament team: 2 PSU players earn nods
Junior Liam Folkes and sophomore Alex Limoges were named to the All-Big Ten Tournament Team, joining Notre Dame’s Morrison, Spencer Stastney, Andrew Peeke and Morris.
What’s next: ND moves on; PSU does not
Ohio State and Notre Dame will represent the Big Ten in the NCAA Tournament, while Penn State will have to follow it from home.
The Nittany Lions finish their season at 22-16-2. Notre Dame is 23-13-3.