After Friday night’s 3-1 loss to Notre Dame (14-3-1), Michigan State coach Danton Cole pleaded with his team to produce more goals. However, he got one less out of his team Saturday night as the Michigan State hockey team (7-7-1) fell to No.4 Notre Dame 2-0.
“I thought our guys worked extremely hard and we are not the first team they have shutout this season,” said Cole. ” I think there are good things to take away from this game. The only time that you lose is if you lose a lesson and we just ran out of time tonight.”
The Spartans could not replicate their stellar defensive first period that they had Friday night against Notre Dame one night later. On Friday the Irish recorded just three shots on goal in the first 20 minutes. On their third shot on goal Saturday night, they found the back of the net. Andrew Oglevie netted his seventh goal on the season just one minute in to put Notre Dame up 1-0. Oglevie was handed a gift by Michigan State goaltender John Lethemon after he spilled a rebound right in front of the slot and Oglevie buried the puck in the wide-open net. That was all the offense Notre Dame needed for their victory.
Though the Spartans only had seven shots on goal in the period, they had an ample amount of chances to tie or even take the lead before the first 20 minutes had concluded. Midway through the period Michigan State forced a turnover at mid-ice and skated into the offensive zone on a three-on-one. Austin Kamer, who led the charge, decided on holding on to the puck and took a shot that was kicked away by Irish net-minder Cale Morris.
Inside of five minutes remaining Taro Hirose, the lone scorer for MSU in Friday night’s game, had the best opportunity to tie the game when he received a pass from Mitchell Lewandowski right in front of the crease. However, Hirose sailed the shot over the net.
The Spartans and Irish played through an uneventful second period that saw a total of 11 shots on goal (Michigan State-6, Notre Dame-5).
In the third period the Spartans continued to struggle to get any offensive rhythm. With just under two minutes remaining they sent Lethemon to the bench for one last gasp effort. However, it was for not after Cal Burke sent in an empty-net goal, his second goal in the series, from the blue line with :15 seconds remaining to seal the shutout victory for the Irish.
Other than the blunder right out of the gate, Lethemon was outstanding between the pipes for the Spartans saving 27 of the 28 shots he faced.
“Johnnie played really well,” said Cole “I think his mindset is that there is going to be some bumps and he has to reset right after. It is very similar to the rest of the team.”
Notre Dame extended their nation leading win streak to 11 games in a row while riding the stellar performance of Morris. He recorded his fourth career shutout in his 23 save effort Saturday night. The Spartans were shut-out at home for the first time since December of 2015.
After falling both of this weekend’s games to Notre Dame, the Spartans will return to the ice this Thursday when they travel to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan.