SOUTH BEND, Ind. – After a 4-1 loss to the Fighting Irish on night one, Michigan State hockey was looking to bounce back and earn a split on the weekend. Michigan State got back to playing its game and proved it with a 4-0 shutout and achieving a program-best 12 Big Ten wins.
“I think there is a certain amount of sweat that goes into being a good hockey team,” head coach Adam Nightingale said. “What makes us a special team is the way we work and that’s the most important thing for our program.”
The first period began with a lot of back-and-forth, similar to night one. The Spartans came out with a bit more heat, getting early shots. The Männistö-Shoudy-Kelly line started this game for MSU and saw solid minutes and even better looks. However, the first goal of the night came from sophomore forward Karsen Dorwart with 2:27 left on the clock. Freshman and sophomore defensemen Patrick Geary and Matt Basgall would take the puck from the Fighting Irish in the Michigan State zone and slide it over to Dorwart, who took it from the far blue line to the left circle where he buried the puck behind Notre Dame goaltender Ryan Bischel.
The second period was all Michigan State. The Spartans had 19 shots in the 2nd period alone, compared to the Fighting Irish’s eight. Michigan State played like they have all season, getting pucks on the net. Bischel had several big saves in net for Notre Dame, but could not hold off Michigan State. With just under seven minutes to go in the period, senior forward Jeremy Davidson got a wrap-around goal to put the Spartans up 2-0. The physicality would continue to play a big factor in game two. After senior defenseman Drew Bavaro was sent off for cross-checking with 1:28 to play, the Spartans would get a chance to add some insurance. Freshman defenseman Artyom Levshunov would succeed in that mission after burying a shot from the blue line with four seconds left in the period.
“We knew what we had to do better today,” Dorwart said. “You obviously can’t give up or let up at all, so I thought we did a good job playing a full 60 minutes today.”
The third period began with Michigan State once again in control. While the Fighting Irish had some good looks, none were able to get past Augustine. The Spartan defense did an excellent job intercepting passes and not letting their opponents get any clean looks. Michigan State was perfect on the penalty kill this weekend, not allowing a single power-play goal. The final goal came when freshman Gavin O’Connell sent a shot into the zone, which deflected off the stick of junior Red Savage and into the back of the net. Michigan State completed the shutout outshooting Notre Dame 42-30.
Trey Augustine’s third career shutout tastes extra sweet after he almost shut out Notre Dame in game two back in December until Notre Dame scored in the last 15 seconds. The freshman netminder had an extremely impressive performance in South Bend, often putting his body on the line to dive for pucks. This shutout put him at the top of the conference, with the most shutouts of any Big Ten goalie this season. As always, Augustine doesn’t focus too much on his stats and recognizes the team effort
“Getting the shutout is a pretty cool feeling,” Augustine said. “The guys did a good job in front of me so a lot of credit goes to them.”
The common trend of the past few series has been MSU falling down and then getting back up. In the past few series, it looks like the Spartans have gotten caught up in the outside noise. They recognized that they were the hunted. No longer surprising anyone. This makes them the team to beat. However, if Michigan State continues playing “Spartan Hockey” they can stay on top. Fast, fluid, offensive-driven hockey. That is the biggest key for this MSU team and one Nightingale has preached over and over. Michigan State’s biggest strength is to block everything out and play their game. As seen on Saturday, when Michigan State plays their game they are a top team.
“We are going to get everyone’s best. We saw that last night and we didn’t bring our best, but today we had a good bounce back. ” Dorwart said. “It’s a privilege to get that from all the other teams.”
Michigan State takes on rival Michigan next week, with one game in Ann Arbor and the second game in Detroit for the annual Duel in the D.