Up until the last conference game of the regular season, Michigan State hockey (16-16-2, 10-12-2 Big Ten) was in the running to host a Big Ten tournament game for the first time since the league formed in 2013.
The Spartans remained idle on the weekend with 34 points, needing wins from Wisconsin and Michigan to clinch home-ice advantage. The Badgers and Wolverines dropped their Friday night games, falling to Penn State and Notre Dame respectively.
Wisconsin came through for MSU, winning its first road game of the regular season – a 2-1 victory over the Nittany Lions on Saturday. The Spartans just needed a regulation win from the Wolverines to clinch fourth place in the conference and home-ice advantage.
Alas, Notre Dame defeated Michigan in overtime, 2-1, earning the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten and home-ice for the tournament.
Michigan's loss pushed MSU down a spot in the standings to fifth place. The Spartans will head to South Bend to face the Fighting Irish in a best-of-three series in the quarterfinals round of the Big Ten tournament March 3-5.
MSU finished 2-1-1 against Notre Dame in the regular season. The Spartans recorded a 5-0 loss and a 1-1 tie with a shootout win during its series with the Irish back in October. A rematch was held in East Lansing on Feb. 3 and 4 during which MSU swept Notre Dame 3-0 and 3-2.
The Spartans and Irish have met once before in the Big Ten tournament in 2019 when Notre Dame was the No. 2 seed and MSU was No. 7. The Irish emerged from the series victorious with 1-0 and 2-0 wins.
Sitting at No. 19 in the PairWise rankings, MSU will need to advance past the first round of the Big Ten tournament to meet the required above .500 record to be considered for the 16-team NCAA tournament.
The first game in the best-of-three series between Michigan State and Notre Dame is set for Friday, March 3 at 7 p.m., while Saturday’s matchup will be at 4:30 p.m. If needed, a tie-breaker game will take place Sunday at 6 p.m. All games will be televised on FS2.