Desperate for points in the standings, the Michigan State hockey team fell to Notre Dame 2-0 Friday night at Munn Ice Arena.
Freshman Pierce Charleson got his first NCAA start Friday, giving usual starter Drew DeRidder and night off, while also hoping to provide a spark to the rest of the team.
After a quick, clean, and mostly uneventful first period things picked up in the second frame with significant scoring chances by both teams.
It was Notre Dame with the lone conversion of the period, scoring off of a two-on-one chance. The break started with a nifty stretch pass high off the glass by defensemen Matt Hellickson that found Landon Slaggert as he entered the MSU zone. Slaggert shot it, got his own miss, and then flipped it from a tight angle on net to beat Charleson.
One of Michigan State’s best chances came midway through the period fresh off the penalty kill. Freshmen forward Kyle Haskins, who was one minute out of the box, used a good stick to poke a turnover in the attacking zone. This sprung himself on a short breakaway, but a brilliant stop by Notre Dame starting goaltender Dylan St. Cyr kept MSU scoreless heading into the 3rd.
The Spartans were finally able to break St. Cyr halfway through the third period on a goal by sophomore Nico Müller. The play started with senior forward Mitchell Lewandowski, who entered the zone with the puck and then made a great pass to find the streaking Müller to tie the game.
Immediately after, the goal was reviewed for a potential offsides. It was a close call with Müller and Lewandowski, but the officials waived-off the goal, leaving the game at 1-0.
“I saw the one (replay) up top. To me, obviously it was a very close call but I thought when the puck went over the toe of his skate was still on the ice dragging his foot,” head coach Danton Cole said after the game. “So I thought it was good, but I am about 0-40. Don't go with me on those.”
The assist on the goal would have been Lewandowski’s 100th career point in green and white, instead he was sent back to the dreaded 99 points.
Notre Dame took that gift of a reversed goal, and quickly used it to their advantage. One minute later Notre Dame’s star forward Alex Steeves made a nifty move around Lewandowski, went back to his forehand and fired a shot past Charleson for his 14th goal of the season.
What once looked like a tie game for a short period of time, turned into a two goal deficit for MSU with nearly all the energy sucked out of them.
“It is definitely tough to come back after that,” said senior defensemen Tommy Miller. “When you are at a high like that from tying the game and then they reverse the call, suck some energy, and then they score after that, it's tough to get energy back. We tried and we fought all the way to the end.”
MSU kept on fighting indeed, but nothing strong enough to get one or maybe two past St. Cyr for his second shutout of the season with 27 saves.
“I think we were alright in the offensive zone. I still think we can be a little quicker with the puck on the back end and get some more pucks on net, but overall we weren't too bad,” Cole said. “Like I said, they are a good defensive team and they make it hard on you but I thought our guys when they had to grind they did and when they had open ice they took some advantage of it.”
Charleson, for the second time in a row, was promising in net making 31 stops with many key ones to keep Michigan State in the game.
“It was definitely a little nerve racking last night once I got the news. It was nice to obviously be in a few games before this and kind of have some stuff to base my preparation off of,” Charleson said, who was making his first appearance on home ice in front of a very limited crowd.
With the loss though, Michigan State now falls to 7-14-2, missing an opportunity to gain ground against Ohio State to avoid being the last seed in the Big Ten Tournament. The team is back at it Saturday for game two with puck drop scheduled for 3 p.m.
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