Michigan State hockey falls to Notre Dame in night one of two-game series

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Emily Martin

SOUTH BEND, IND. – The No. 8 Michigan State hockey team traveled to South Bend for game one of a two-game series against Notre Dame. After sweeping the Fighting Irish at home back in December, Michigan State came into the weekend feeling like it had the upper hand. However the Fighting Irish, on a three-game win streak, would not go down easily.

“It’s kind of what we expected. It was a hard-fought game against a really good team,” head coach Adam Nightingale said. “They did a really good job making it hard on us.”

The first period started unusually, with the Spartans immediately on the PK after receiving a bench minor for being on the ice too long after warm-ups. MSU was able to kill off the penalty and would later get its own chance on a power play. The ice was tilted in Notre Dame’s favor, but the Spartans took control later in the period. However, neither team could get past either netminder in the first and would head into intermission with the shot count tied at nine a piece.

There was speed and physicality early in the game. The Spartan defense looked a lot cleaner, getting their sticks in the way of Fighting Irish shots. The puck was left in the slot for several rebound opportunities, but MSU was able to get the puck away before any more were fired at the net.

The second period began as the period of Trey Augustine. The freshman netminder made multiple big saves to start the period, as Notre Dame had some breakaway and second-chance opportunities. The back-and-forth play continued until the Spartans got their second chance at the power play in the middle of the period. They wasted no time as sophomore forward Karsen Dowart sent a pass off the faceoff to sophomore forward Isaac Howard who buried it in the top corner of the net. However, the Fighting Irish bounced back less than a minute later when graduate defenseman Ryan Siedem got the puck right in front of Augustine and tied the game.

Starting similarly to the first two periods, quick back-and-forth action. Just past halfway through the period, the Fighting Irish began to send a flurry of shots toward Augustine. While the freshman made some big saves, senior defenseman Drew Bavaro was able to get one through traffic and into the back of the net. About three minutes later, freshman forward Cole Knuble would get a breakaway opportunity and give the Fighting Irish a 3-1 lead as the period winded down. Finally, an empty netter from graduate forward Trevor Janicke sealed the deal and added to Notre Dame’s win streak.

“Obviously when you sweep a team they want to come and get you back,” Howard said. “We knew they were going to come. I thought it was a neck and neck game up until that third period.”

The final score may deceive some into thinking that Michigan State had an off night, but the game remained neck and neck until those final minutes. Both teams played hard and all players on the ice were solid. The Green and White had many good looks at the net, but 19 blocked shots from Notre Dame silenced Michigan State. The real trouble began once Bavaro lit the lamp. Once falling behind, the issues that have plagued the Spartans in the past few series returned. While the game was fairly even in play through most of the game, once Notre Dame took the lead, Michigan State lost its momentum. The Spartans began to stray away from their game and the Fighting Irish used that to their advantage. However, this Michigan State team should not be too disappointed with their performance.

“It was like a playoff-type game,” Nightingale said. “We should be thankful we have guys who want it that way and they want it hard, they don’t want it easy.”

The teams will play the second game of the series today, Feb. 3, at 6 pm. Michigan State will look to pick up some crucial points to stay at the top of the conference.

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