Sunday, December 4, 2022

FINAL: MSU 1, Notre Dame 1, Spartans unable to capitalize on strong goaltender play

December 20, 2020
<p>Then-sophomore defender Dennis Cesana (right) and Notre Dame center Jake Pivonka both attempt to bring down the puck. The Spartans tied with the Fighting Irish, 1-1, at Munn Ice Arena on Nov. 22, 2019. </p>

Then-sophomore defender Dennis Cesana (right) and Notre Dame center Jake Pivonka both attempt to bring down the puck. The Spartans tied with the Fighting Irish, 1-1, at Munn Ice Arena on Nov. 22, 2019.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

They say goalie is the most important position in hockey, and that was true Saturday night for starting goaltender Drew DeRidder and the Michigan State Hockey team, who tied No. 16 Notre Dame, 1-1, on the road.

For the final two periods as well as overtime, Notre Dame dominated MSU. The Spartans could not get anything going offensively. DeRidder was brilliant and continually bailed out MSU, who had to settle for the tie.

Ryan Bischel got the start in net for Notre Dame after not starting the past two games versus Ohio State.

After having a two week break without games, Michigan State did not appear to have any rust, at least in the first period, jumping out to a 1-0 lead.

The goal started and ended with the captain, Tommy Apap. Apap forced a turnover in the neutral zone and carried the puck into the offensive zone. A few seconds later, he found a loose puck in front of the Notre Dame net. He took a few whacks at it and was finally able to pass the scrappy goal past Bischel, perhaps a reward for his defensive play earlier.

The referees reviewed the goal for a potential goaltender interference by Apap, but they deemed it a good goal, giving the Spartans the lead.

The goal was the senior center’s first goal of the season and 13th in green and white. Defenseman Dennis Cesana and forward Mitchell Lewandowski received assists.

In the second period, Michigan State struggled to generate offense. They received an early powerplay thanks to a goaltender interference penalty by Notre Dame’s Michael Graham.

That, however, did not help. MSU Head Coach Danton Cole said that the powerplay was one of the points of emphasis during the two week break, but improvement by the Spartans was not apparent as Michigan State failed to register a shot on goal during the man advantage. The Spartans only registered four shots on goal throughout the whole period.

Notre Dame was able to tie the game at one on a wide open backdoor goal from Alex Steeves, the leading scorer on the season for the Fighting Irish.

In the third period, the offense did not get much better, but more so because of penalties. The Spartans committed three penalties in the third including a major penalty by defenseman Christian Krygier.

The five minute Notre Dame powerplay was cut short by about two minutes when a penalty by Notre Dame created a 4-on-4. In total, MSU spent around seven minutes on the penalty kill in the third making it extremely difficult to generate offense.

DeRidder’s superb performance kept the score at 1-1 leading the Spartans to their third overtime game of the season.

Overtime went similarly to the third period: an absent Michigan State offense and outstanding DeRidder. Defenseman Tommy Miller was called for a hooking penalty in front of the MSU net with 1:46 in the extra period. The Notre Dame powerplay, which like MSU had been struggling all year, failed to score ending the game in a tie.

Despite not getting a shutout like he did earlier in the year against Arizona State, this may have been DeRidder’s best game as a Spartan. He was brilliant and continually bailed out the Spartans all night long finishing with 47 saves.

There was not much DeRidder could have done on the lone goal he gave up Saturday against a wide open Steeves.

Powell Connor, a freshman defenseman from Vernon, British Columbia, made his season debut for MSU as an extra skater. He did not record any shots on goal, but was on the ice for Notre Dame’s goal.

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Freshman forward Kristof Papp returned to the lineup at left wing after sitting out last game. Nicolas Müller manned the center, a position where Cole was pleased with his play against Minnesota.

Faceoffs had been a strength of the Spartans through six games. They were the No. 1 team in the country in terms of faceoff percentage. But, for the first time all year they lost that battle 31-29.

Michigan State recorded a season-low 20 shots on goal after coming into the game averaging 35.5 shots on goal, fifth best in the nation.

Getting shots on goal never seemed to be a problem this year. It was always converting those shots into goals. MSU will need to get more shots on net to take some pressure off DeRidder if they want to upset Notre Dame.

Game two of this series is at 5 p.m. on Dec. 21 on NBC Sports Chicago.

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