Morris’ 48 saves, Brauer’s two goals lead Irish over Penn State

Tribune Staff Report
ND Insider

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Sophomore goalie Cale Morris again was the calm in an early storm and fourth-line right wing Bo Brauer scored the tying and winning goals in the final two periods as No. 2 Notre Dame skated to a 5-3 Big Ten Conference victory over No. 17 Penn State before a sellout crowd at the Pegula Ice Arena.

 The victory lifted the Irish, who scored their five goals in the final two periods, to 21-5-1 overall and 15-2-0-0 in the Big Ten. Their 45 points are 11 more than second-place Ohio State, which beat visiting Michigan State, 4-2, Friday night. The Irish and Buckeyes meet next Friday and Saturday nights on the Lefty Smith Rink at the Compton Family Ice Arena.

 Penn State, 0-5-1 in its last six games, fell to 13-12-4 overall and 6-9-4-2 in the Big Ten. The Irish and Nittany Lions conclude their weekend series Saturday at 4:05 p.m.

 Morris finished with 48 saves, 18 in the final period and 23 in the first period as Penn State took a 2-0 lead. Morris improved to 20-3 this season and the Irish improved to 11-1 on the road.

Irish coach Jeff Jackson was asked afterward if Morris' performance gives him more validation to being the best goaltender in the country.

"He's been validating that the last three months," Jackson said.

Morris has been Notre Dame's starting goaltender in the last 20 games, the first 16 of them victories.

"Penn State puts a lot of pressure on, a lot of shots, and he stood his ground," Jackson added. "He didn't have much chance on those faceoff goals and we didn't do a good job coverage-wise. But he made some great saves for us when he needed to, especially in the third period."

 It was only the second two-goal game in the career of Brauer, a senior on Notre Dame’s fourth line with junior center Joe Wegwerth and other players who rotate in. Jackson uses seven defensemen and 11 forwards instead of the usual six and 12 because of Notre Dame's depth at the blue line.

Wegwerth had a pair of assists as did defenseman Bobby Nardella.

 Andrew Oglevie and Andrew Peeke (on a power play) tied the game for Notre Dame early in the second period before Brauer scored back-to-back goals after Penn State had taken a 3-2 lead.

 Brauer’s goals came at 17:13 of the second period and 4:21 of the third period. Dawson Cook added an insurance goal at 11:58 of the third for the Irish.

"Our team has been pretty good in dealing with all different kinds of situations," Jackson said. "For the first time in 3-4 years, I can say we have more of a veteran team -- more juniors and seniors. It helps because they've been in those situations before. As long as I stay calm ... that's a bigger challenge for me. The guys are pretty composed."

 Chase Berger had two goals and Andrew Sturtz had three assists for the Nittany Lions. Penn State goalie Peyton Jones had 32 saves.

 Thanks to Morris’ play in the first period, the Irish were lucky to leave the ice after the first 20 minutes trailing only 2-0. In the first 4½ minues of the game, Penn State took 16 shots and Morris turned away the seven that were on goal. Jake Evans had Notre Dame’s first shot at Jones at 4:31 after winning a faceoff, but the Nittany Lions clearly had the Irish on their heels.

 Both of the Lions’ goals came after faceoff wins in the Irish defensive end. Sturtz won both of them, sliding a feed to Alex Marsh, who spun and fired a 10-footer past Morris at 7:31. Then at 17:18, Sturtz won another faceoff and Berger came off the boards to fire the puck past Morris for a 2-0 lead.

 In between, the Irish got some help when an apparent Penn State goal by Brandon Biro at 8:21 was disallowed after a review showed the puck was directed through an empty crease across to Biro on a hand pass by Nate Sucese.

 Notre Dame outshot Penn State 7-1 at the start of the second period and scored two goals in the first 6:48 to tie the game at 2-2. The first Irish goal came at 4:00 when Oglevie, left unguarded to Jones’ right, took a cross-ice pass from defenseman Dennis Gilbert and blasted the puck past the Penn State goalie.

 Then with Penn State’s Kevin Kerr off the ice for high sticking at 5:25, Notre Dame’s Peeke got a feed from Dylan Malmquist and whipped a shot on goal that Jones couldn’t locate while being screened by Wegwerth, who had started the play by getting the puck to Malmquist. The puck went into the net at 6:48 for Notre Dame’s fourth power-play goal in its last seven opportunities going back to Saturday’s 4-1 Irish victory at Minnesota.

 But just as it appeared the Irish had the momentum, Sturtz and Co. stole it right back. Berger’s second goal of the game came at 9:01 when Trevor Hamilton directed a shot from the point toward Sturtz, who deflected the shot toward Berger, who deflected it past Morris.

 Shortly after Notre Dame killed off its only penalty of the game – a high-sticking penalty against Peeke – Irish freshman defenseman Matt Hellickson got the puck to Wegwerth, who drew Jones and a Penn State defenseman toward him. Wegwerth then passed the puck to Brauer, who had a wide-open net and did not miss at 17:13.

 The Irish went up 4-3 at 4:21 of the third period on Brauer’s second goal of the game. It came after Nardella controlled the puck along the boards and skated into the corner before passing to Jack Jenkins behind the Penn State net. Jenkins spun and returned the puck to Nardella, who quickly passed the puck in front to Brauer. Cook made it 5-3 when he beat Jones at 11:58 off feeds from Nardella and Mike O’Leary.

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