No. 7 Michigan State hockey sweeps their weekend series over No. 20 Notre Dame

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Emily Martin

EAST LANSING – No. 7 Michigan State took on No. 20 University of Notre Dame in an intense weekend matchup after the off-week. The energy was high in Munn Ice Arena after a week of no competition. The fans came out in full support of the Spartans and made for yet another sold-out crowd both nights in East Lansing.

On Friday night, the Spartans came onto the ice with one main focus from head coach Adam Nightingale: play a solid, full 60-minute hockey game. That is precisely what the Spartans did, putting up a great fight against the Irish.

In the first period Friday night, Michigan State came out in full force matching Notre Dame’s speed, and continued this into Saturday.

“The biggest thing is just the speed [MSU has], I mean all four lines have it but yeah, we just get in there quick,” sophomore forward Karsen Dorwart said. “We had a guy on top of them so just kind of getting them in their zone, and you could tell they were getting tired after a while, I think that helped us out a lot.”

The first period remained scoreless, with great efforts by freshman defenseman Patrick Geary, sophomore defenseman Matt Basgall, and senior captain Nash Nienhuis. Michigan State netted the first goal, with sophomore forward Tiernan Shoudy putting the Spartans on the board.

Notre Dame tied the score 1-1 with about 13 minutes left in the second period, but sophomore forward Joey Larson swiftly banked the go-ahead goal, securing a second-period lead with assists from graduate student Reed Lebster and junior forward Red Savage.

Never losing their energy, the Spartans secured yet another goal just 20 seconds into the third period, this time by freshman defenseman Artyom Levshunov, bringing the score to 3-1. This started a little back-and-forth momentum between MSU and UND with the Irish trying to keep the score close but the Spartans refused. For his fifth goal of the season, sophomore forward Isaac Howard shot an unassisted bellringer, and sophomore forward Daniel Russell followed closely behind with an empty netter, leaving a final score of 5-2.

Saturday night, Michigan State channeled the same determination going into the second matchup of the weekend, aiming for a sweep right before the holidays.

“After Friday night’s game, you’re going to expect a big push from them. They’re not used to giving up that many shots on goal, so we knew they were going to come out hard,” Dorwart said.

The intensity nearly doubled from the night before, making for a more anticipated and low-scoring game. Dorwart claimed the first goal of the period just six minutes after the puck drop. MSU kept it 1-0 until the end of the first period off of some solid defensive play.

The second period was full of perfect setups by the Spartans, but they couldn’t quite find the net. Regardless, Michigan State dominated the period, keeping the puck in Notre Dame’s end for the majority of the time. Junior forward Red Savage took the second goal, with assists from Larson and Levshunov.

The Spartans showed off some extra skills they had been working on during their off time, paying extra attention to stickhandling and forechecking, which served as their main advantage.

Star freshman goaltender Trey Augustine showed off in this game, but one save stood out five minutes into the third period when Augustine blocked a Notre Dame breakaway shot. This weekend marks the first half of his first season with Michigan State.

“The way the crowd reacted like that, I mean, we’re pretty lucky to have a hockey crowd. The standing ovation for a save, they respect that our guys work hard,” Nightingale said proudly. “For us, I think our guys have earned some respect from our fan base.”

Michigan State seemed to tire out the Irish, keeping the puck in the Notre Dame end yet again. There were a few missed empty netters, but the attitude was still in full swing from both sides. Notre Dame scored their first goal of the game with just 14 seconds remaining, due to an unfortunate and possibly controversial icing call.

The Spartans closed it out and took the second win of the series with a final score of 2-1. So far this season, Michigan State is undefeated at home and has just secured their fifth total weekend sweep and third sweep in the Big Ten Conference.

With the matchup against Notre Dame bringing the first semester to a close, Michigan State now has an overall record of 12-4-2 and 7-1-2 in the Big Ten Conference. The Spartans will return to the ice for the Great Lakes Invitational in Grand Rapids, going up against Ferris State on Dec. 28 at 7 pm.

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