Notre Dame (14-13-7) scored two goals in the final five minutes of regulation Saturday night to tie the Michigan State hockey team (15-17-2) 2-2. The Fighting Irish secured the extra point in the shootout in a game that took just under three hours to complete.
Senior forward Logan Lambdin and freshman Josh Nodler scored goals for the Spartans, while senior goaltender John Lethemon had another 40-save night. The loss means MSU will not get home-ice advantage in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, as they will finish in sixth place.
No goals were scored during the first period, but the Fighting Irish had several quality scoring chances that they couldn’t convert on. Lethemon either came up with a big save or was bailed out by his defensemen to keep the game scoreless, as on multiple occasions the puck was sitting untouched in the crease. Both teams couldn’t capitalize on their respective power play opportunities and Notre Dame outshot MSU 15 to seven through 20 minutes of play.
The Spartans would strike first 5:41 into the second period, when Lambdin scored his second goal of the weekend. Sophomore defenseman Dennis Cesana ripped a shot that deflected off the crossbar and bounced right back out to the stick of Lambdin, who buried the rebound to give MSU the 1-0 lead. The goal was Lambdin’s seventh of the season.
Before fans could settle into their seats for the start of the third period, the Spartans doubled their lead. Freshman forward Jagger Joshua chipped a puck out of the defensive zone that found its way to Nodler.
Nodler carried the puck up the left side of the ice and, once entering the offensive zone, crossed paths with and dropped a pass to Lambdin. Lambdin gave the puck right back to Nodler, who scored to give the Spartans a 2-0 lead 2:28 into the third.
The Fighting Irish got one back with just 4:48 remaining in the game. ND forward Graham Slaggert had the puck at the top of the offensive zone with a lot of traffic in front of the net. His teammate, Alex Steeves, barely had any time to get set up before he received a pass from Slaggert. Steeves was able to get an awkward shot off that found its way past Lethemon to cut the Spartan lead in half.
Less than two minutes later, Notre Dame would tie the game up, feeding into the momentum from their home crowd on Senior Night. Irish forward Cal Burke had the puck on the boards in the offensive zone and fired a pass through Spartan defenders to line-mate Cam Morrison, who redirected the puck past Lethemon to tie the game 2-2 and send it to overtime.
Neither team scored in the five-on-five or three-on-three segments of overtime, so a shootout was going to decide who would get the extra point. After senior forward Patrick Khodorenko’s goal was called back due to goaltender interference, ND defenseman Tory Dello scored on his attempt to give the Irish the extra point.
The Spartans will now look ahead to the Big Ten tournament, which will run March 6-21.
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