Five players score as Notre Dame gets 47 saves from Ryan Bischel to beat No. 5 Penn State
SOUTH BEND — If veteran Notre Dame hockey coach Jeff Jackson had an early Christmas wish list headed into Saturday’s Big Ten game with No. 5 Penn State, it would have been for another solid goaltending performance from senior Ryan Bischel and an offensive outburst which has been often lacking this season.
Saturday night before an overflow crowd of 5,028 fans watching at the Lefty Smith Rink in the Compton Family Ice Arena, Jackson got both from his 19th-ranked Fighting Irish. With Bischel making a career-high 47 saves and goals from five different players, Notre Dame overcame a 50-22 deficit in shots to beat Penn State 5-3.
Ryder Rolston’s team-leading sixth goal got Notre Dame started, and the Irish, who were averaging just 2.35 goals a game coming into the contest, got goals from Justin Janicke (his fourth), Jackson Pierson (first), Jack Adams (second) and Landon Slaggert (second) to end the first semester at 8-8-2 overall and 4-5-1 in the Big Ten for 12 points, tied for fifth place with Michigan.
Coach Guy Gadowsky’s Nittany Lions fell to 15-5 overall and are now eight points behind Minnesota in second place in the league with their 22 points off a 7-5-0 league record.
“They are a hard team to play against,” Jackson said. “They are one of the best teams in the country for a reason. They play a heavy game, they play hard, they forecheck well, they get pucks to the net, they do a lot of things well. You really have to match their intensity level. You have to assume they are going to get 45-50 shots a night. That’s their game. You just have to minimize the damage after the shot.”
Once again, the Irish got another strong performance from the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Bischel, who split time last season with grad-transfer (from Cornell) Matt Galajda until late in the season after backing up Cale Morris his first two seasons. He had 13 saves in the first period, 15 in the second and 19 in the third to outplay Penn State junior Liam Souliere, who had 17 saves total.
“Ryan has played well for us all season,” Jackson continued. “It’s hard sometimes to play with consistency when you are playing every night. We have to monitor how much he practices. He has to get his rest and he’s a little dinged up right now, too.”
Bischel’s teammates know who has been their most valuable player the first semester.
“Ryan has been our backbone all year,” Justin Janicke said after his two-point night that was matched by a pair of assists by grad defenseman and captain Nick Leivermann.
“That’s the best thing he (Justin Janicke) has ever said,” Bischel joked. “I felt a little more settled in. It was nice that we got off to a good start.”
It also helped that his teammates blocked a season-high 23 shots led by center Tyler Carpenter and defenseman Jake Boltmann with five each.
Still, coming off their 5-2 Friday victory, the Nittany Lions dominated the first nine minutes of the first period with a 7-0 shot advantage.
The Irish weren’t even close to putting pressure on Souliere until Leivermann took a pass in his own defensive end from defensive partner Chase Blackmun and started up ice juggling the puck in the air with his stick. The sellout crowd was amazed that the puck didn’t touch the ice for a good 30 feet as Leivermann moved through center ice and into the Penn State zone.
The Irish captain carried it toward Souliere and then dropped it back to Rolston, who fired a shot from the left faceoff circle dot along the ice past the Penn State goalie for Notre Dame’s first shot on goal and a 1-0 Irish lead at 9:42. The period ended with Notre Dame up 1-0.
Bischel made 15 saves on the 16 shots Penn State put on net during the second period. The only one which eluded him came after he stopped Connor McEachern’s doorstep shot only to have Kevin Wall bat home the rebound at 12:24.
Twelve seconds later, the Nittany Lions were back on the power play, but Bischel came up with two key saves, the first a nifty denial of Ture Linden from in close at 13:16.
Then in the final minute with the Nittany Lions on the attack again, Irish sophomore center Tyler Carpenter blocked a shot out to center ice and the Irish suddenly found themselves with a 3-on-0 break toward Souliere. Penn State forward Tyler Gratton hustled back to engage Carpenter, who managed to slide the puck over to Justin Janicke. He beat Souliere high to his stick side at 19:12 for the 2-1 lead the Irish took to the locker room after two periods.
Penn State defenseman Jimmy Dowd Jr. took an interference penalty at 6:41 of the third period, and the Irish used up all but one second of the resulting power play to make it 3-1. The goal came off the stick of Pierson, who grew up in Zionsville, attended Culver Academy and then matriculated to New Hampshire for his bachelor’s degree. Pierson’s 40-foot wrist shot through a crowd in front of Souliere, including Irish players Jesse Lansdell and Trevor Janicke, found the back of the net at 8:40.
Breathing a little easier, the Irish then made it 4-1 a little over five minutes later when Justin Janicke’s pass from the defensive zone found the 6-foot-6 Adams breaking in alone on Souliere. His 25-foot wrister beat the Penn State goalie glove-side high at 13:58.
It became 5-1 after Gadowsky pulled Souliere for an extra attacker. Chayse Primeau fed Slaggert at center ice and the South Bend native found the net from more than 100 feet at 16:17.
The Nittany Lions added goals from Connor McMenamin (17:12) and Christian Sarlo (18:59) but it was too little and too late.
After first-semester final exams and papers, the Irish break for Christmas with their families, returning Dec. 27 to begin preparations for a non-conference series Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 against visiting independent Alaska Fairbanks.