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Goaltenders Key as Penn State Comeback Falls Short

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By Andy Kuros, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. In front of the third largest crowd in Pegula Ice Arena history, No. 17 Penn State and No. 2 Notre Dame battled for 65 minutes until the Fighting Irish eventually prevailed victorious in a shootout.

After falling behind by two goals just eight minutes into the first period, the Blue and White fought back with two unanswered goals, including one in the opening minutes of a\ strong second period.

Sophomore forward Liam Folkes, who tied the game two minutes into the second period with his 10th goal of the season, talked about playing from behind early in the game.

"Last night we were up 2-0 and they came back and won, so we were positive about it," Folkes said. "We felt like we could come back just like they did last night."

Head coach Guy Gadowsky was also pleased with how his squad approached the early deficit.

"I was really happy with how the team responded to being down 2-0 early," Gadowsky said.

The Nittany Lion comeback to tie the score was fueled by both aggressiveness and a quick-trigger offense. Coming off a game Friday night in which it had 51 shots, Penn State tallied 57 shots Saturday night against Notre Dam goaltender Cale Morris, including 20 in the second period. The 57 shots tied a season high, as Penn State shot the puck early and often.

"We're on the right track," Folkes said. "I think we outplayed them for sure."

Despite outshooting the second ranked team in the country by 23 shots, Penn State was simply unable to deliver the knockout blow, largely due to the great play of Morris in net. He stopped a penalty shot by Andrew Sturtz with just 1:36 left in overtime and made all three saves in shootouts, doing his part in keeping Notre Dame in the game and Penn State out of the goal column.

"Cale [Morris] had an unbelievable weekend," Folkes said. "He stole two games from us."

Gadowsky was also complimentary of Morris, who allowed only a combined five goals on 106 shots by Penn State this weekend.

"Give him a ton of credit," Gadowsky said. "He played great again."

Penn State's sophomore goalie Peyton Jones, who has been a part of some great battles with Morris in the past, talked postgame about playing against another great goalie.  

"He's a tremendous goaltender," Jones said. "I played him when I was in Midgets and I played against him in the USHL. We battled it out in game five of the series playoffs in the USHL league. He's a great goalie."

Although Jones saw Notre Dame build a quick two-goal lead while his counterpart across the ice continued to make save after save, with no quit.

For Jones, that no-quit attitude all stems from the importance of having a short memory at his position and the ability to bounce back from adversity.

"If you dwell on the goals you give up, it will only lead to worse things ahead," Jones said. "It's definitely not easy to look at the score and see you're down 2-0, but that's a part of being a goalie."

That mindset helped Jones stop 32 shots, matching a great performance from Morris throughout the game.

Jones made some incredible saves down the stretch for Penn State, stopping the first two shooters for Notre Dame in shootouts before the senior defensemen Jordan Gross scored the game-winner.

Penn State has a bye week coming up, but looking ahead, they will travel to East Lansing, Michigan for a series with the Spartans starting February 16.

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