Bischel’s career-high 52 saves help Irish stun No. 6 Penn State, 2-1

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent
Notre Dame goaltender Ryan Bischel, shown January 13 in South Bend, stopped 52 shots against Penn State Friday night.

Just when you think Notre Dame goaltender Ryan Bischel can’t play any better, the senior netminder seems to raise his game to another extraordinary level.

Clearly Notre Dame’s most valuable player this season, Bischel stopped 52 Penn State shots — and his teammates blocked a season-high 23 — as the Fighting Irish rallied for a 2-1 Big Ten hockey victory over the sixth-ranked Nittany Lions before a sellout crowd of 6,558 partisans in the Pegula Ice Arena at State College, Pa.

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The victory was Notre Dame’s fourth straight triumph at Pegula where the two teams meet again Saturday at 5 p.m., and the 52 saves are a career high for Bischel, whose previous best effort was a 47-save performance in a 5-3 victory over Penn State on Dec. 10 at the Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend.

Bischel stopped 19 shots in the first period despite allowing a goal by Danny Dzhaniyev at 19:00. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Medina, Minnesota, native then made 33 more saves over the final two periods, including 18 in the third for coach Jeff Jackson’s Fighting Irish, who evened their overall record at 11-11-3 and improved their Big Ten record to 6-7-2 for 20 points. 

Bischel’s teammates got him the victory with a second-period tying goal by Chase Primeau at 5:42 and the game-winning goal by Ryder Rolston at 2:12 of the third period – on a power play. Sophomore left wing Justin Janicke had assists on both. Coming into the game, Notre Dame’s power-play unit had only scored 11 times in 76 chances this season and was ranked 49th out of 61 teams in the nation.

Bischel got plenty of help from his shot-blocking teammates, who had 14 blocks in the second period. For the game, defenseman Drew Bavaro stopped four Penn State shots while forwards Jesse Lansdell and Solag Bakich stopped three each. Notre Dame’s 23 blocks were one more than the 22 Irish shots saved by Penn State goaltender Liam Souliere. 

Coach Guy Gadowsky’s Nittany Lions fell to 17-7-1 overall and 7-7-1 in the Big Ten for 24 points.

The Irish got the first shot on goal of the game at 1:50 off the stick of Rolston, but the Nittany Lions dominated, getting the next 10 at Bischel before defenseman Ryan Helliwell’s shot was stopped by Souliere. 

Notre Dame got lucky during a slashing penalty against Jake Boltmann at 14:24 when Bakich broke his stick. The Irish penalty-kill units kept the Nittany Lions’ onslaught away from Bischel, who stopped two shots until his teammates returned to full strength.

The Irish were outshot 20-6 in the period. Dzhaniyev finally batted home a rebound at 19:00 off feeds from Jarod Crespo and Ture Linden to give Penn State a 1-0 lead heading to the locker room.

Souliere stopped a Justin Janicke breakaway at 3:31 as the Irish came out a little more settled in for the second period. Janicke then made a big play, taking a feed from Landon Slaggert and skating behind the Penn State goal before shoveling the puck to the unguarded Primeau, who poked it home to tie the game at 5:42.

It remained 1-1 when the Irish got a power-play opportunity midway through the period. Jackson Pierson hit the pipe at 11:39, and 13 seconds later Lansdell’s shot off a faceoff was denied by Souliere.

In the final minute, Connor McMenamin got around the Irish defense and skated in to challenge Bischel. Boltmann came over to defend but McMenamin got his shot off before the two skaters crashed into Bischel and dislodged the net at 19:12. Bischel lost his face mask after the collision, and McMenamin received a minor penalty. The Irish got two shots at Souliere, who somehow kept another chance by Lansdell out of the net at 19:58.

The penalty carried over into the third period and Penn State killed it. But Tyler Gratton’s tripping penalty at 1:31 gave the Irish another man advantage, and Rolston, who had a team-high five shots, scored on a 20-foot backhander over Souliere’s right shoulder at 2:12 off feeds from Justin Janicke and Chase Blackman for the 2-1 lead which Bischel would not surrender.


At Pegula Ice Arena, State College, Pa.

Notre Dame011—2  
Penn State100—1   

First Period—Scoring: 1. Penn State, Danny Dzhaniyev 4 (Jarod Crespo, Ture Linden) EV 19:00. Penalties: Notre Dame 1-2, Penn State 0-0.

Second Period—Scoring: 2. Notre Dame, Chayse Primeau 5 (Justin Janicke, Landon Slaggert) EV 5:42. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 1-2 (2-4), Penn State 3-6 (3-6).

Third Period—Scoring: 3. Notre Dame, Ryder Rolston 7 (Justin Janicke, Chase Blackmun) PP 2:12. Penalties (total): Notre Dame 2-4 (4-8), Penn State 2-4 (5-10).

 Shots on goal: Notre Dame 24 (6-9-9), Penn State 53 (20-15-18). Goalie saves: Notre Dame, Ryan Bischel 52 (19-15-18), Penn State, Liam Souliere 22 (6-8-8).

Power-play opportunities: Notre Dame 1 of 4, Penn State 0 of 3. Faceoffs won: Notre Dame 26 (6-13-7), Penn State 35 (8-17-10). Blocked shots: Notre Dame 23 (4-14-5), Penn State 5 (1-2-2).

Referees: Andrew Bruggeman and Jonathon Sitarski. Linesmen: Tommy George and John Waleski. Attendance: 6,558 (5,704). Records: Notre Dame 11-11-3 overall, 6-7-2 Big Ten for 20 points; Penn State 17-7-1 overall, 7-7-1 Big Ten for 24 points.