Missed chances, rough second period lead to Notre Dame hockey's 3-0 loss at Michigan State
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Notre Dame hockey coach Jeff Jackson doesn't scoreboard watch, or have an assistant relay what's going on around the Big Ten Conference while he's on the bench. Knowing doesn't change his team's predicament.
In a compacted Big Ten standings, the 20th-ranked Irish sit right in the middle, teetering on the edge of a top-four finish that would avoid a road trip to open the conference tournament.
Notre Dame's 3-0 loss at No. 17 Michigan State Friday night at Munn Ice Arena was a significant blow to the Irish fortunes coming down the final stretch of the season.
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"I thought Michigan State played well," Jackson said. "We didn't handle their pressure real well, which led to some turnovers. But we had chances to score and we didn't finish... That is probably the biggest thing from the whole night."
It was the fifth shutout loss of the season for the Irish, dropping them to sixth in the conference with 26 points, one behind Ohio State, Michigan and the Spartans, and out of position to host a series in the Big Ten Tournament. The Irish are currently projected to play at Penn State.
"Every game from here on out is critical if we are going to finish in the top four," Jackson said. "We took a hit tonight, but (Saturday) night is going to be the same thing. We have to take advantage of the games we have in front of us, and we didn't do that tonight."
Friday's game turned sour for the Irish in the second period, who were penalized three times in the first five minutes (four in total), leading to Jagger Joshua's opening goal. Erik Middendorf added a second Spartan goal five minutes later and Nicolas Muller capped Michigan State's win with an empty-netter at 51 seconds left.
"Discipline wasn't a huge issue tonight, but when you give them four opportunities they are probably going to score on one of them," Jackson said. "That's the difference in the game, frankly."
The Irish came up empty on a five-minute power play seven minutes into the game, as well as multiple breakaway chances blocked by transfer Spartan netminder Dylan St. Cyr, who accumulated 32 saves against his former Notre Dame teammates.
"We have had this bug-a-boo all season long where we get scoring chances and we don't finish — on the power play, too," Jackson said. "Tonight we needed to score at least a goal (on the man advantage) and we didn't."
The Irish finished 0-for-3 on power plays as their two-game win streak was snapped.
The Irish (13-13-3, 8-9-2 Big Ten) and Spartans (14-13-2, 8-9-2 Big Ten) finish their weekend series Saturday at 4 p.m.
"We just have to come back and play good tomorrow night," Jackson said. "The window is closing."
MICHIGAN STATE 3, NOTRE DAME 0
At Munn Ice Arena, East Lansing, Mich.
First Period—Scoring: None. Penalties: Notre Dame 0-0, Michgan State 1-5.
Second Period—Scoring: 1. Michigan State, Jagger Joshua 12 (Matt Basgall, Nicolas Muller) 6:10 PP, 2. Michigan State, Erik Middendorf 7 (Nicolas Muller, Cole Krygier) 11:23 Penalties (total): Notre Dame 4-8 (4-8), Michigan State 1-2 (2-7).
Third Period—Scoring: 3. Michigan State, Nicolas Muller 4 Penalties (total): Notre Dame 1-2 (5-10), Michigan State 2-4 (4-11).
Shots on goal: Notre Dame 32 (11-12-9-0), Michigan State 27 (6-12-9-0).
Goalie saves: Notre Dame, Ryan Bischel 24 (6-10-8-0), Michigan State, Dylan St. Cyr 32 (11-12-9-0).
Power-play opportunities: Notre Dame 0 of 3, Michigan State 1 of 4.
Faceoffs won: Notre Dame 40 (13-11-16-0), Michigan State 30 (5-15-10-0).
Referees: Brett DesRosiers and Kenny Anderson. Linesmen: Bill Hancock and Nick Huff Attendance: 0,000 (6,555). Records: Notre Dame 13-13-3 overall, 8-9-3 Big Ten for 26 points; Michigan State 14-13-2 overall, 8-9-2 Big Ten for 27 points).