Penn State (2-1) held a 7-3 lead with 11:46 remaining in the third period before Notre Dame (1-1) began its charge back. Three straight tallies by the Fighting Irish in a two-minute span cut the lead to 7-6 before Sturgis fired his 14th goal of the year on a TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.) feed with 5:06 to go in the frame. That goal, which would be Penn State’s last in the game, proved to be the game-winner as the Nittany Lions were held scoreless over the final 20:06 of the game.
Notre Dame again trimmed the lead down to one on a Matt Kavanagh (three goals, two assists) unassisted tally on a tight-angled shot with 7:25 to go in the fourth. That would be Notre Dame’s only goal of the fourth quarter and the only one the Irish would tally in the final 21:30 of the game.
The Irish were held scoreless by the spectacular play of Kaut, whose 13 saves were the most this season. Moreover, Kaut moved into sole possession of second place on the Penn State chart for career saves with 577 and is now 117 behind all-time leader Drew Adams (694).
In a less than three-minute span from 6:16 to 4:29, Kaut made saves of shots from Will Corrigan, Kavanagh, Trevor Brosco and John Scioscia to keep it a one-goal game in the fourth quarter. After an extended Penn State possession that yielded a 30-second timer-on situation and eventually led to a turnover, Notre Dame went on the attack with 2:03 to go.
In the final 45 seconds, Notre Dame swung the ball behind the net as Kavanagh found Jim Marlatt in front of net who lost control of the ball. Penn State looked to gain possession, but a 30-second penalty was called on JP Burnside (Garden City, N.Y.) that gave the Irish one final chance to force overtime. Almost immediately after the restart, Kavanagh threw the ball over the head of a teammate, giving Penn State possession as the Nittany Lions ran out the clock and defeated the Irish for the second time in three times.
Saturday’s game was the third straight decided by a goal between the two teams, but the only one not in need of overtime. Last year, Notre Dame won 10-9 at Holuba Hall, while PSU upset the then-No. 2 Fighting Irish, 4-3, at Arlotta Stadium in 2012, which kicked off the 13-game winning streak in true road games. Penn State is 6-15 all-time against Notre Dame and 3-7 all-time in South Bend. Jeff Tambroni moves to 5-4 all-time when coaching against ND.
Penn State came out firing from the onset as Tom LaCrosse (Canandaigua, N.Y.) tallied his first goal of the season on a left-handed running shot with 9:53 remaining in the first quarter. Sturgis doubled the lead 68 seconds later as he rolled around the cage and sent a rocket to the upper-right corner of the net for a 2-0 Penn State lead.
The Nittany Lion defense was strong against the Fighting Irish by not allowing a shot for the first 11 minutes of the game. When Notre Dame finally managed a shot, Kaut was there for the save only to have Ryan Mix put home the rebound with 3:58 to go in the first quarter.
The Irish tied the game on a Scoscia man-up goal just 62 seconds into the second quarter. Penn State would trade goals with Notre Dame over a 23-second span as TJ Sanders (Orillia, Ont.) fired a seven-yard shot from a Sturgis feed with 6:43 to go in the first half. ND’s Kavanagh rolled around the net to even the score at three with 6:20 to go. Kavanagh was involved in all of ND’s goals by scoring one and assisting the other two.
Sturgis took over from there as he rolled around on the left side of the crease and bounced one in past Connor Kelly (seven saves) for a 4-3 lead with 4:37 remaining in the half. Forty seconds later, Sturgis raced across the face of goal to receive a pass from Erik Myers (Del Mar, Calif.) and put away his third goal of the game and a 5-3 lead entering halftime.
The lead grew to three on Sturgis’s third straight goal and fourth of the game as he collected a loose ball in front of the crease and put it past Kelly with 12:37 remaining in the third quarter. The 4-0 Penn State run was capped by a Sanders shot that snuck past Kelly on a Kyle Baier (Auburn, N.Y.) helper with 11:46 remaining and a 7-3 advantage. Sanders ended his day with two goals and his first assist of the year.
For Sturgis, it was his ninth game with at least three goals and his six-point performance was one shy of his career-high seven points that he registered in a 22-7 win over Michigan on Feb. 8. Sturgis career total of 126 points is five points from 12th all-time at PSU and he now has 78 career goals, which is 15 tallies from 12th place on the Nittany Lion all-time chart.
Penn State held Notre Dame to 24 percent shooting on the day as the Nittany Lions out-shot ND, 34-29. Penn State narrowly won the ground-ball battle, 26-25, while the Fighting Irish won 10 faceoffs to PSU’s nine. Both teams went 1-for-2 on the man-up, while Penn State committed 15 turnovers to Notre Dame’s 12.
Defensively, Tyler Travis (Geneva, N.Y.) and Steven Bogert (Carlsbad, Calif.) each forced two turnovers, while Bogert picked up four ground balls. Redshirt-freshman Drake Kreinz (Delafield, Wis.) was 9-for-19 at the faceoff X and picked up a game-high six grounders.
The Nittany Lions continue their tough stretch of the schedule with another road contest next week against No. 17 Ohio State. That game is slated for a 1 p.m. opening faceoff at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
Courtesy: PSU Athletics Communications
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