Stastney breakaway goal in OT lifts Irish over Penn State 3-2

Tribune Staff Report
ND Insider

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Sometimes game-winning goals in hockey come from unexpected players in surprising ways.

That was the case as Notre Dame defenseman Spencer Stastney scored on a breakaway at 4:06 during the five-minute, 3-on-3 overtime to beat Penn State 3-2 in a Big Ten Conference game Friday night at the Pegula Ice Arena.

Stastney’s third goal of the season came after senior goalie Dylan St. Cyr stopped a shot by Penn State’s Connor MacEachern. The puck ended up on Stastney’s stick and he broke in alone on Penn State goalie Oskar Autio, deked the netminder down and put the puck into the net to give the Irish the overtime win a night after Penn State won in overtime 2-1.

Coach Jeff Jackson’s Fighting Irish (8-9-1, 6-7-1-1-2-1 for 21 points in the Big Ten) rallied twice against the Nittany Lions (9-9-0, 7-8-02-1-0 for 20 points in the Big Ten) on goals by Alex Steeves in the second period and Colin Theisen in the third period to send the game into overtime. Stastney’s game-winner broke Notre Dame’s three-game losing streak.

St. Cyr, starting his fifth straight game, finished with 33 saves in the victory and his two-game total of 67 came against 71 shots by the Nittany Lions. Coach Guy Gadowsky’s club got goals Friday by Tyler Gratton in the first period and Sam Sternschein early in the third period. Autio finished with 24 saves after Penn State, averaging almost 40 shots a game coming into the series, outshot the Irish for the second straight night, this time 35-27.

Jackson shuffled his forward lines for Friday’s game in part to the day-to-day status of sophomore right wing Max Ellis, who was in the lineup in Thursday’s loss. Jackson also scratched forwards Solag Bakich and Ryder Rolston in favor of Cam Burke and Matt Steeves, who were joined on the fourth line by Pierce Crawford.

The Nittany Lions took a 1-0 lead on an unassisted goal by Gratton at 14:28 of the first period while outshooting the Irish 9-7 in the period. Gratton’s goal came after an Irish pass by defenseman Jake Boltmann hit Gratton’s skate and the Lions forward quickly beat St. Cyr off the carom.

The Irish tied the game 1-1 on Steeves’ ninth goal of the season at 4:06 of the second period off assists from the Slaggert brothers of South Bend, left wing Landon and center Graham. It was the third straight game in which Steeves has scored a goal.

The Irish had a power-play opportunity midway through the period but Autio never saw a shot. St. Cyr, meanwhile, kept it at 1-1 going into the third by making four saves in the final minute as Penn State edged Notre Dame in shots 10-9.

The Nittany Lions started quickly in the third period and Sternschein scored from the bottom of the left faceoff circle at 1:42. At one point, Penn State had a 7-2 edge in shots before the Irish got four shots midway through the period, three of them by defenseman Charlie Raith.

The Irish tied it at 11:34 when Theisen came up with a loose puck in the Penn State zone, went around a defenseman and beat Autio to tie the game at 2-2. It was Theisen’s first goal since he scored a hat trick in a 5-3 loss to Wisconsin in the second game of the season Nov. 14.

Notre Dame remains on the road next weekend with a league series at Ohio State. Friday’s faceoff is at 4:30 p.m. with Saturday’s at 1:30. Both games will be televised on the Big Ten Network. Penn State will be off because its series at Michigan has been postponed because of COVID-19 issues on the Michigan campus.


At Pegula Ice Arena, University Park, Pa.

Notre Dame 0 1 1 1—3

Penn State 1 0 1 0—2

First Period—Scoring: 1. Penn State, Tyler Gratton 1 (unassisted) EV 14:28. Penalties: Notre Dame 0-0, Penn State 0-0.

Second Period—Scoring: 2. Notre Dame, Alex Steeves 9 (Landon Slaggert, Graham Slaggert) EV 4:06. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 0-0 (0-0), Penn State 1-2 (1-2).

Third Period—Scoring: 3. Penn State, Sam Sternschein 2 (Tyler Paquette, Bobby Hampton) EV 1:42. 4. Notre Dame, Colin Theisen 4 (unassisted) EV 11:34. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 0-0 (0-0), Penn State 0-0 (1-2).

Overtime—Scoring: 5. Notre Dame, Spencer Stastney 3 (unassisted) EV 4:06. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 0-0 (1-2), Penn State 0-0 (1-2).

Shots on goal—Notre Dame 27 (7-9-9-2), Penn State 35 (9-10-11-5). Goalie saves—Notre Dame, Dylan St. Cyr 33 (8-10-10-5), Penn State, Oskar Autio 24 (7-8-8-1). Power-play opportunities—Notre Dame 0 of 1, Penn State 0 of 0. Faceoffs won—Notre Dame 25 (8-10-7-0), Penn State 36 (8-13-12-3). Blocked shots—Notre Dame 15 (5-7-2-1), Penn State 13 (5-6-1-1). Referees—Sean Fernandez and Colin Kronforst.

Records—Notre Dame 8-9-1 (6-7-1-1-2-1 for 21 points Big Ten), Penn State 9-9-0 (7-9-0-2-1-0 for 20 points Big Ten).

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