FINAL: Hockey starts strong, but Irish pull away late as MSU falls 3-1
The Spartans looked strong early, and with newfound optimism around the program, there were moments it all garnered to the forefront.
But it was No. 4-ranked Notre Dame that pulled away, scoring three unanswered, including the dagger with 2:18 left in game The sellout crowd of 6,392 fans were mostly left disappointed — there were quite a few Notre Dame fans — with a 3-1 MSU loss.
All was well to start, especially in the opening 20 minutes. The Spartans outshot the Irish, 11-3, generating pressure often against Notre Dame goaltender Cale Morris.
They finally got to him with just 33.4 seconds left in the opening period, a Taro Hirose goal which was his sixth of the season. He had a game-leading nine shots on goal for the game, nearly a third of MSU's 30 shots.
Momentum in hand, and the lead, MSU weathered the storm for the second period. Up until Notre Dame struck — twice. The pair of goals came within 1:02 of each other.
Notre Dame's leading point-getter, Jake Evans, scored then assisted as the Irish opened up a 2-1 lead, which they never did relinquish.
While MSU had a number of Grade A opportunities down the stretch looking for the equalizer, the puck never did find the back of the net. The Spartans had a prime chance with a power play with 6:57 left in the game, but they squandered the opportunity.
And as the Spartans lollygagged away their chances to tie, Notre Dame took advantage. The Irish put the game firmly away with a score with just 2:18 left in the game.
MSU and Notre Dame — newly minted Big Ten rivals, starting this year — rematch Saturday night for to wrap up the two-game set. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. and again at Munn Ice Arena.