After eight periods of hockey without a single goal, the MSU hockey team (6-13-3-5 overall, 5-10-0 CCHA) kept reiterating the goals eventually would come.
Saturday night, less than two minutes into the game, the Spartans finally found the back of the net for the first time in more than 165 minutes, and the offense just kept producing.
MSU took down No. 2-ranked Notre Dame (15-6-0 overall, 11-2-0-0 CCHA) by a score of 4-1, giving the Fighting Irish only their second CCHA loss this season.
Sophomore forward Tanner Sorenson kicked the game off about a minute and a half in with a wrister that got in above Notre Dame’s Summerhays’ glove hand.
“I think that was huge not only for myself because it’s been a while, but our team because it got us off to a good start,” Sorenson said. “Our team, for some reason, dies down when we don’t get a fast start, so I think that was huge for everyone.”
In the second period, Notre Dame’s Anders Lee came out of the corner with the puck, brought it around the outer edge of the right circle and sniped it past MSU freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand’s left shoulder.
Instead of backing down, the Spartans banded together and created an offensive output that hasn’t been displayed in weeks.
About three minutes after Lee’s goal, MSU sophomore defenseman R.J. Boyd picked up his first career goal at MSU with a shot from the blue line, pulling the Spartans ahead and ultimately giving them the winning goal.
About halfway through the second, the Spartans found themselves on a lengthy 5-on-3 after Notre Dame got called for slashing and too many men on the ice.
It appeared MSU poked the puck past Summerhays, and a goal was originally rewarded but the tally was called back after an official review.
Before either of Notre Dame’s penalties expired, MSU decided to gain redemption from the called-back goal seconds earlier.
“It could’ve been a real momentum changer, so we did stay with it,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “We responded, which was nice and when the goals are as spread out as they were, it allows that emotional lift you need.”
Junior forward and captain Greg Wolfe took a shot from inside the circle and sophomore forward Brent Darnell picked up the rebound, burying it in the same spot the called-back goal was at.
To complete the streak MSU was on, freshman forward Matt DeBlouw cleared the puck toward an empty Notre Dame net and topped the game off with an empty net goal with less than two minutes to play.
After games and games of struggles, Wolfe said this week was a huge confidence booster, proving that MSU can compete with any team in the country.
“I think we’ve been frustrated in the past, and really the goal this weekend was just to work as hard as we could and hopefully get the result,” he said. “It really paid off for us. Every single guy bought into blocking shots and taking hits in vulnerable positions to get the puck out of the zone and everyone did it all night long. I think it wore them down and made them frustrated where you see them take some penalties that they normally wouldn’t take.”