SOUTH BEND, Ind. – It was do-or-die time for Michigan State hockey Saturday night, as the Spartans needed a victory to prevent their season from ending and extending their 14-game losing streak in the Big Ten Tournament.
MSU got what it needed, pulling off a commanding 4-2 come-from-behind win over Notre Dame.
The Spartans dominated shooting to start for the second night in a row, jumping out to a 14-1 edge with 8:57 to play in the first.
Senior goaltender Ryan Bischel had another award-worthy performance in the first period, including five back-to-back impressive saves on shots from sophomore forward Tanner Kelly and freshman forward Tiernan Shoudy at the beginning of the game.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, Bischel stopped 29 pucks. His former teammate, graduate student goaltender Dylan St. Cyr made 31 saves for the Spartans while allowing two goals.
Despite only putting up half the shots the Spartans made in the first period, Notre Dame struck first at 17:13. Senior forward Solag Bakich broke away from the MSU skaters, raced down in front of St. Cyr and passed the puck to senior forward Trevor Janicke who knocked it back to Bakich to finish the job.
With 2:07 remaining in the first period, senior forward Nicolas Müller landed himself in the penalty box on an interference infraction, handing the Irish their first power-play opportunity. Notre Dame was unable to convert on the man advantage ahead of intermission.
Just under five minutes into the second period, MSU’s penalty kill unit went back out onto the ice when fifth-year defenseman Christian Krygier sat for boarding.
At 7:26 of the second period, the Spartans earned their first power play of the night when junior forward Grant Silianoff was whistled for boarding Kelly. It was just what MSU needed to get on the board for the first time all weekend. Junior forward Jeremy Davidson snuck past Bischel from in front of the left side of the net to tie the game 1-1.
After countless unlucky bounces and missed opportunities, the Spartans finally found their groove in the second period. Freshman defenseman Matt Basgall got MSU its first lead of the series, beating Bischel with an in-front-of-the-net goal.
MSU had two goals on seven shots during the second frame, while it put up 16 shots and no tallies in the first twenty minutes. Junior defenseman Nash Nienhuis was the second D-man to score when he extended Michigan State’s lead to 3-1 at 3:27 of the third.
Davidson was whistled for cross-checking at 13:02 of the third, gifting Notre Dame another power-play chance. The Irish were able to convert thanks to graduate student forward Jack Adams who beat St. Cyr from in front of the net.
Notre Dame pulled Bischel with under three minutes remaining as a last-ditch effort to even the playing field but were unable to find the back of the net again.
Michigan State holds on to see another day as the Spartans and Irish head back to Compton Family Ice Arena tomorrow at 6 p.m. to decide the winner of the quarterfinal round.