By Maria Canales,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - It was a power play goal that put Penn State (3-1-1) on the board in the first period Friday night at No.3/4 Notre Dame (3-2-1-). Freshman forward Nikita Pavlychev secured the puck off a deflection from sophomore forward Chase Berger and found the back of the net, giving the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead.
It was an outstanding play by the 6-foot-7 freshman, who has said before he wants to be known for something other than his size and physicality.
During Friday night's matchup, fellow freshman forward Denis Smirnov continued to put in the hard work and got the assist on two Dylan Richard goals in the second period.
The Nittany Lions tied the game with the Fighting Irish, 3-3.
"We didn't have our best game Friday but we certainly came away from it knowing that we can play with Notre Dame," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "That gave us a lot of confidence, including all of our freshmen."
Saturday's game saw further progress by the freshmen class, who took what they saw during Friday's contest and applied it to the second showdown of the weekend.
Following a goal from forward James Robinson, freshman forward Nate Sucese gave the Nittany Lions the 2-1 lead, scoring at the beginning of the third period. Despite the Irish tying the game, the Nittany Lions were confident heading into overtime.
A goal from sophomore forward Andrew Sturtz, assisted by two freshmen, secured Penn State's 3-2 overtime win. Forward Denis Smirnov and goaltender Peyton Jones were credited with the assists.
Jones, in addition to his assist, had an outstanding weekend between the pipes. The Langhorne, Pennsylvania native made 30 saves Friday, including several clutch saves during overtime. Again facing down a relentless Notre Dame offense on Saturday, Jones made 26 saves.
"[Peyton Jones] played extremely calm, that was a huge save [in overtime]," Gadowsky said following Friday's game. "If you watch him nothing bothers him and I think that is a tremendous quality in a goalie."
The Nittany Lions have grown significantly as a team in just the three road contests so far this season. Now Penn State comes home for five home series before seeing a road matchup again in January.