Thursday, July 2, 2020

Spartans tie, despite falling in shootouts to No. 3 Notre Dame

After dictating most of the game, a late goal by Notre Dame gave them the time they needed to edge the Spartans

November 22, 2019
<p>Notre Dame right wing Cal Burke (11) avoids three Michigan State Defenders. The Spartans were defeated by the Fighting Irish, 2-1, at Munn Ice Arena on November 22, 2019. </p>

Notre Dame right wing Cal Burke (11) avoids three Michigan State Defenders. The Spartans were defeated by the Fighting Irish, 2-1, at Munn Ice Arena on November 22, 2019.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

Friday evening Michigan State Ice Hockey (5-5-1) met with No. 3 Notre Dame (8-1-2) in the first game of their two-game series. The Spartans, fresh off a sweep of the Michigan Wolverines, looked to keep their success rolling.

The No. 3 ranked Irish, on the other hand, looked to continue their near-perfect start to the season, and did by defeating the Spartans in a shootout after remaning deadlocked at the end of regulation, 1-1.

The Spartans struck first, thanks to a second period goal from senior right wing Sam Saliba, but a goal with just over a minute remaining, from a Notre Dame team with their backs against a wall, pushed the game into two overtimes and a shootout.

A Notre Dame score in the shootouts, after three periods and two overtimes, would end the game.

Because the game was decided in shootouts, the match would go down in the scorebooks as a tie.

"I thought we played a real solid 200-foot game tonight," Saliba said. "Outside of the last two and a half, three minutes of the third there, I thought we almost took it to them. We played physical, we played hard, we were good in the areas we needed to be good in."

The first period was a grudge match. Neither team was able to pull ahead, but the first 20 minutes managed to serve a different purpose. 

A tone setter.  

The contest was going to be a physical bout. The Spartans didn’t plan on letting No. 3 walk in and take a win, let alone a goal, easily.

Senior goalie John Lethemon shined for Michigan State in the first period, logging nine saves on several good looking shots from the Irish.

Lethemon would need more from the Spartan offense though, as they only managed three shots through the first 20 minutes.

Saliba would provide in the second period.

Following a face-off in Spartans’ offensive territory, sophomore defender Cole Krygier would slap a shot from the point past senior Notre Dame goaltender Cale Morris. The shot would find the Spartans up 1-0, with 14:43 to go in the second period.

Notre Dame couldn't find a response. Despite their high volume of shots, none found a crease in Lethemon's coverage.

At the end of the second, the Spartans held a 1-0 lead and Lethemon stayed perfect with 18 saves, one of which came with .8 seconds left, keeping the Irish off the board as time expired.

Michigan State would dictate the third period too, edging Notre Dame in every aspect. The Spartans kept the game out of reach until there were only two minutes remaining.

Notre Dame saw shots and opportunities throughout the game, but finally managed to get on the board with 1:39 remaining in the third period with a goal from right wing sophomore Michael Graham, tying the game at one goal each.

Overtime.

As the last second ticked off the clock in the third period, the two teams would get even chippier as they would get into a mosh-style brawl near the Spartans' bench.

The fight would lead into a four-on-four five minute sudden death overtime.

Neither team managed to pull away in the five minutes alotted.

Three-on-three. A double overtime contest.

Again, neither team would pull away.

Michigan State's commanding performance through three periods and two overtimes would end via a Notre Dame goal in their first attempt during the shootout. While they controlled the tempo of the game, a late third period slip allowed Notre Dame to escape all the way into shootouts, where they were able to edge the Spartans, somehow managing to escape without an upset.

Michigan State (5-5-1) will meet again with No. 3 Notre Dame (8-1-2) Saturday evening at 7 p.m.

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