Late goal costs Lions in conference semifinals
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The Nittany Lions will not have a chance to defend their Big Ten tournament title next weekend as they let up a goal to Jack Jenkings with 30.9 seconds left, falling 3-2 to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Big Ten semifinals.
With only one period remaining in the tightly contested game, a single mistake would be deciding factor, which went against the Lions.
As Notre Dame controlled the puck behind the Penn State net with under a minute remaining, the Lions failed to mark Jenkins right in front the net. As Jenkins’ initial shot was blocked by Chase Berger, the puck bounced Kris Myllari back to Jenkins who scored the game-winner with 30.9 seconds left.
Penn State entered the game riding a five-game win streak, with Notre Dame winning only one of their last five.
The matchup got off to fast start on the offensive end as the two teams each scored twice in the first period.
Notre Dame struck first as Jordan Gross fired a shot from the point, which got the best of Peyton Jones.
With Brandon Biro playing his best period all season, Penn State was able to keep pace. While on the power play, Erik Autio found Biro in front of the net, who was able to get Notre Dame goaltender Cael Morris to come off his. Instead of shooting, Biro found a wide open Nate Sucese, whose one-timer tied the game at one.
The Fighting Irish responded with a power play goal of their own as Andrew Peeke’s rebound beat Jones restoring the Irish lead.
But it wouldn’t last long it was once again Brandon Biro threatening Morris. As he beat Gross, Biro’s low shot was denied, but he cleaned up his own rebound and beat Morris to tie the game back up at 2-2.
The second period was all goaltending as neither Morris or Jones could be beat. Jones made the save of the game as he stretched across the crease to rob Cal Burke of the go-ahead goal, keeping the game tied.
The Nittany Lions will almost certainly make the NCAA Tournament, with the Pairwise Probability Matrix giving them a 99.8% chance of making it before Saturday’s game. Next Sunday, Penn State will learn where they will be seeded.