SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame’s last line of defense provided enough offense to allow the 11th-ranked Irish hockey team Saturday night to salvage a couple of points in the Big Ten standings.
Senior defenseman Bobby Nardella scored the game-game-tying goal with three minutes remaining in the third period as the Irish and Spartans emerged from regulation and sudden-death overtime deadlocked at 1-1 in their Big Ten Conference game before 4,876 fans watching in the Compton Family Ice Arena.
After neither team scored in a 3-on-3 five-minute shootout, ND coach Jeff Jackson sent out junior defenseman Tory Dello, an unlikely choice for some, in the second round of the “penalty-shot” shootout. Dello beat Michigan State goaltender Drew DeRidder.
When Irish goalie Cale Morris took Mitchell Lewandowski’s tying attempt in his pads, the Irish gained the second of three points available Saturday night.
The second straight five-point weekend for the Irish (14-8-3, 7-6-2-2 Big Ten) moved them into second place — ahead of Minnesota, which lost 4-3 to Wisconsin Saturday in Minneapolis.
Notre Dame, which took five of six points from the Badgers last weekend, now has 25 points, four behind league-leader Ohio State, which was idle this weekend and is host to the Irish next Friday and Saturday evenings.
“It’s good we came back and tied that game,” Jackson said. “(Michigan State) played a great game defensively — didn’t give us a lot. It was a challenging game. It’s that time of year.”
Every point is crucial for Notre Dame, which swept the regular-season and postseason titles in its first season in the Big Ten on the way to its second straight Frozen Four last April. Jackson is skating eight freshmen this season.
Jackson, who sometimes goes with his instincts, decided to send Dello out in the shootout, after Nardella and MSU’s Taro Hirose — the nation’s leading scorer — failed to score in the first round of the shootout. Hirose had scored the game’s opening goal 33 seconds into the second period
“(Dello’s) probably our best guy in the shootouts when we have them every Thursday,” Jackson said. “Anybody that can beat Cale Morris on a regular basis … I’m surprised I didn’t use him first.”
Dello, who deked DeRidder down before depositing the puck into the net, joked when he heard his coach’s comments about his dominance of Morris, who finished Saturday night with 29 saves, five fewer than DeRidder.
“I have his (Morris’) mind in a pretzel,” Dello quipped before getting serious. “This speaks a lot about our character. Coach has been on us to finish strong and win the third period. It's a 60-minute game."
And sometimes longer.
Nardella’s goal — a 35-foot blast from the boards that beat DeRidder on his glove side — was his seventh of the season (he and Dylan Malmquist lead the Irish with 25 points), and it came off feeds from two of the freshmen, Graham Slaggert and Jake Pivonka, at the 17:00 mark of the third period.
Notre Dame, playing without sidelined goal-scoring stars Cal Burke, Cam Morrison and Joe Wegwerth for the second straight weekend, got zero points from its new line of left wing Malmquist, center Mike O’Leary and right wing Michael Graham that had four goals and 11 points in Friday’s 6-3 Irish victory.
Graham, who had six goals in his previous three games, managed just two shots as the Spartans (9-13-4, 5-8-3-2 Big Ten) got defensive after outshooting the Irish 52-31 Friday.
NOTRE DAME 1, MICHIGAN STATE 1 (OT)
(ND wins shootout, 1-0)
At Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend, Ind.
Michigan State 0 1 0 0 —1
Notre Dame 0 0 1 0 —1
First period—Scoring: None. Penalties: Michigan State 1-2, Notre Dame 2-4.
Second period—Scoring: 1. Michigan State, Taro Hirose 13 (Mitch Lewandowski, Dennis Cesana) 0:33. Penalties (total): Michigan State 0-0 (1-2), Notre Dame 0-0 (2-4).
Third period—Scoring: 2. Notre Dame, Bobby Nardella 7 (Graham Slaggert, Jake Pivonka) 17:00. Penalties (total): Michigan State 4-8 (5-10), Notre Dame 2-4 (4-8).
Overtime—Scoring: None. Penalties (total): Michigan State 0-0 (5-10), Notre Dame 0-0 (4-8).
3x3 Shootout—Scoring: None. Penalties (total): Michigan State 0-0 (5-10), Notre Dame 0-0 (4-8).
Shootout: ND-Bob Nardella, miss; MSU-Taro Hirose, miss; ND-Tory Dello, make; MSU-Mitch Lewandowski, miss.
Shots on goal: Michigan State 5-7-14-4—29; Notre Dame 10-12-13-0—35.
Goalie saves: Michigan State, Drew DeRidder 10-12-12-0—34; Notre Dame, Cale Morris 5-6-14-4—29.
Power-play opportunities: Michigan State 0 of 3, Notre Dame 0 of 4.