FINAL: Michigan State falls to Notre Dame in first Big Ten Tournament game
After splitting its final regular season series against Ohio State, Michigan State hockey (12-18-5) fell to Notre Dame (19-13-3), 1-0 in a grueling first matchup in a best of three series.
The seventh-seeded Spartans, after going 2-2 in its final four games, entered this conference tournament matched against the most formidable Big Ten opponent not named Ohio State as they traveled to South Bend Friday night.
The Spartans failed to take advantage in game one of this crucial series on a night where the Fighting Irish’s leading goal scorer Bobby Nardella did not take the ice as he was scratched minutes before the game.
Junior goaltender John Lethemon started in net for MSU after earning a start in the latter half of the series at OSU, saving 23 shots while allowing one goal. The Spartans tallied 27 shots on net but failed to score through 60 minutes.
The low-scoring affair remained stagnant from the opening puck drop. The Spartans targeted just eight shots to Notre Dame’s seven in the first period.
MSU would fail to convert on its best opportunity which came just over five minutes into the second period.
Freshman forward Adam Goodsir sent a shot past Cale Morris as he rattled the post, sending the play to review. The no-goal would stand, as neither side would create a quality chance until MSU threatened once again late in the period.
Cam Burke would later give the Spartans the break they were seeking, boarding junior defenseman Brutus Ghafari and leaving the game with a five-minute major penalty.
MSU would not threaten to score until the final minute of the man advantage. Junior forward Logan Lambdin, blazing with speed into the Notre Dame zone, wrapped around Notre Dame’s goal and nearly sneak his shot past the sprawling Morris.
The Fighting Irish's goaltender was able to slide over and shut down Lambdin’s attempt along with MSU’s offensive spark for the remainder of the contest.
The Spartans would lead shots on goal 19-14 heading into the final period of the opening game of the series.
MSU’s prospects of creating chances were doomed by penalties in the third, as Notre Dame held possession for most of the period through three consecutive power plays.
The penalties began in the early minutes of the third as senior defenseman Zach Osburn took a holding penalty. Notre Dame would convert on its first opportunity on the man advantage. Spencer Stastney’s shot from the point deflected off the screening Mike O’Leary to give the Irish a 1-0 lead just over two minutes into the third.
The Spartans would not retain possession until the final minutes of the contest. Lethemon substituted for the extra attacker with just over 1:30 to play, but the late push proved futile for the Spartans.
MSU will look to keep its Big Ten Tournament hopes alive in game two of the series Saturday at 7 p.m. at Compton Family Ice Arena.