It’s been 17 years since No. 17 Michigan State last swept No. 20 Notre Dame, a remarkable streak that ended Saturday in East Lansing.
Sophomore defenseman David Gucciardi’s early third-period go-ahead goal did the trick, contributing to a 3-2 win for a massive six points in the Big Ten standings. Graduate transfer goaltender Dylan St. Cyr stood on his head too, making 33 saves to the final buzzer.
Michigan State certainly did not get off to the start that it hoped, at one point trailing the shot count 12-2. But St. Cyr, who shut out his former team Friday night, bailed MSU out multiple times, only allowing one goal in the period. The Spartans capitalized on their few scoring chances however and took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
MSU got on the board first, converting on a 4-on-3 power play. Notre Dame and Michigan State took offsetting roughing penalties midway through the period, but just 30 seconds later the Spartans got a power play when Notre Dame senior forward Jackson Pierson delivered an undisciplined cross-checking penalty to junior forward Nash Nienhuis in front of the Spartan net.
Notre Dame responded to the Spartan goal rather quickly, with junior forward Landon Slaggert ripping a shot from a distance that beat St. Cyr.
MSU began to establish offensive pressure at the end of the period, and the second line took the lead back. Senior forward Erik Middendorf laid his body on the line, eating two physical hits along the half wall to keep the puck in the zone. Junior forward Jeremy Davidson made a nifty crossing pass in front of Notre Dame senior goaltender Ryan Bischel that found senior forward Nicolas Müller, who played it up and over a lunging Bischel.
The goal was Müller’s second of the weekend, also his fourth point in the two games.
Both offenses opened up during the second period, totaling 27 shots on goal. But Michigan State committed two penalties, the second one a detrimental one.
Senior forward Jagger Joshua crashed into Notre Dame forward Jesse Lansdell just above the Irish goal line and Lansdell went hard into the boards. The referees gave the play a look and assessed Joshua a major boarding penalty with exactly five minutes remaining in the period.
It was the Spartan's third consecutive game committing a major penalty, but MSU couldn’t make it three straight successful five-minute penalty kills. At 17:45, graduate transfer forward Chayse Primeau unleashed a one-timer to beat St. Cyr and tie the game at 2-2 heading into the third period.
Michigan State took the lead back early in the third period on the power play when Notre Dame senior forward Solag Backich committed a delay of game penalty. Gucciardi rocketed the puck from the point through screens by graduate transfer forward Miroslav Mucha and sophomore forward Tanner Kelly for the go-ahead goal.
It was Gucciardi’s third goal of the season and his first since Oct. 22 when he scored two goals in his first four games of the season.
The Spartans had a chance to extend their lead midway through the third period when Joshua drew a hooking penalty, but Notre Dame locked it up, giving MSU just three unalarming shots on goal.
Notre Dame pushed hard in the final minutes, adding an extra attacker with just under two minutes to play. Davidson was centimeters away from making it a two-goal game, but Michigan State was still able to hold on after a massive save by St. Cyr with two seconds remaining.
The Spartans will play their last home of the regular season next Friday versus Michigan, before heading to Little Caeser’s Arena to face Michigan on Saturday night.