Bischel makes Silianoff’s goal stand up in No. 17 Irish 1-0 shutout of Spartans
SOUTH BEND – When his teammates have needed a lift, goaltender Ryan Bischel has turned into “The Incredible Hulk” for the No. 17 Notre Dame hockey team, especially in the third period.
For the second straight game, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior from Medina, Minn., saved his best for the last period, stopping 18 Michigan State shots to make junior left wing Grant Silianoff’s second-period goal stand up in Friday’s 1-0 victory which opened the Big Ten Tournament best-of-three quarterfinal series at the Compton Family Ice Arena.
Bischel finished with 36 saves in the game, 12 fewer than he had in last Saturday night’s 2-1 overtime victory at No. 4 Michigan where he stopped 26 saves in the third period alone. In case you’re counting, that’s 44 saves in his last two third periods of play.
Bavaro and No. 17 Notre Dame opens Big Ten Tourney against No. 20 Michigan State, St. Cyr
“We’ve got a great goalie, but we rely on him a little too much for my benefit,” joked 66-year-old Irish head coach Jeff Jackson, himself a former backup goaltender in the 1970s for the late Hall of Fame coach Ron Mason at Michigan State. “Ryan’s played great goal for us all season long. We wouldn’t be in position to move forward without him.”
Notre Dame’s unbeaten string is now five — three victories and two ties — and the 16-14-5 Irish saw their PairWise ranking rise to No. 12 as they try to give themselves an opportunity for a seventh straight berth in the 16-team NCAA Tournament. But first, the Irish must close out the 16-17-2 Spartans, and they will have two opportunities to do that starting with Saturday afternoon’s 4:30 faceoff. If coach Adam Nightingale’s Spartans win, they would force a deciding third game Sunday night at 6.
As usual, Bischel saluted his teammates for his performances of late. “Our guys have done a good job of letting me see the puck — that makes it easy,” Bischel said. “Our ‘D-Corps’ (defensemen) have taken a big step, not turning the puck over. They’re doing a good job boxing their guys out.”
There’s always some luck involved, and Bischel and the Irish got some from the crossbar while killing off Jesse Lansdell’s late penalty for tripping at 16:22. Michigan State’s freshman right wing Daniel Russell got the puck behind Bischel, but the puck found metal instead of net.
Make no mistake, though. Bischel is doing a great job keeping the net empty by himself. The nation’s leader in minutes played (2,070.13), Bischel also is No. 1 in saves (1,131) and in saves percentage (.934). The shutout was his fifth of the season and second this year against Michigan State, and it came against his former Irish teammate, MSU grad goalie Dylan St. Cyr, who blanked the Irish 3-0 a month ago in East Lansing. St. Cyr finished with 20 saves, only two of them coming in the third period that Michigan State dominated.
“It wasn’t an easy win,” Jackson said. “Our guys gutted it out. I thought we started slow and finished slow. We didn’t do a good job getting the puck out of our zone on a consistent basis. But we had a good stretch in the second period — about 6-8 minutes. We need more of that, more consistency of possessing the puck in the offensive zone. But first we’ve got to get it in there.”
Michigan State took the first five shots of the game before the Irish settled in to close to a 10-9 deficit after the scoreless first period. In the second period, the Irish outshot the Spartans 10-8 and got the game’s only goal at 16:13 after controlling the puck long enough in the Michigan State end to allow for a line change.
When Lansdell skated to the Irish bench, Silianoff jumped onto the ice to join his linemate, 6-foot-6 graduate right wing Jack Adams, along with Lansdell’s center, Trevor Janicke. Silianoff got the puck down low to Adams and then positioned himself in front of the 5-foot-8 St. Cyr as Adams sent the puck to Janicke, who fired it toward the net. Silianoff got to the puck and redirected it behind St. Cyr for only his third goal but his second game-winner of the season (the first came against Michigan in a 3-2 overtime victory Nov. 12).
The goal delighted the sellout crowd of 5,117 fans who navigated their way through snowy and slushy roads and sidewalks to watch the plucky Irish led by Bischel.
“Everyone in the locker room has taken a big step — we are shorthanded upfront,” Silianoff said. “Kind of like Bisch said about how we’ve stepped up on the back end, our forwards have also. We know we have to compete to win.”
Silianoff knows it helps having someone like Ryan Bischel as the last line of defense.
“He’s got game,” Silianoff chuckled.
NOTRE DAME 1, MICHIGAN STATE 0
At Lefty Smith Rink in Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend
First Period—Scoring: None. Penalties: Michigan State 1-2, Notre Dame 0-0.
Second Period—Scoring: 1. Notre Dame, Grant Silianoff 3 (Trevor Janicke, Jack Adams) EV 16:13. Penalties (total): Michigan State 0-0 (1-2), Notre Dame 0-0 (0-0).
Third Period—Scoring: None. Penalties (total): Michigan State 1-2 (2-4), Notre Dame 3-6 (3-6).
Shots on goal: Michigan State 36 (10-8-18), Notre Dame 21 (9-10-2). Goalie saves: Michigan State, Dylan St. Cyr 20 (9-9-2), Notre Dame, Ryan Bischel 36 (10-8-18).
Power-play opportunities: Michigan State 0 of 2, Notre Dame 0 of 1. Faceoffs won: Michigan State 31 (12-6-13), Notre Dame 36 (13-14-9). Blocked shots: Michigan State 9 (5-4-0), Notre Dame 15 (5-4-6).
Referees: Jonathon Sitarski and Jake Rekucki. Linesmen: Pat Richardson and Nick Huff. Attendance: 5,177 (4,852). Records: Michigan State 16-17-2, Notre Dame 16-14-5.
BIG TEN PLAYOFFS
(4) Notre Dame 1, (5) Michigan State 0 (Notre Dame leads series 1-0)
(2) Michigan 6, (7) Wisconsin 5 (OT) (Michigan leads series 1-0)
(3) Ohio State 5, (6) Penn State 1 (Ohio State leads series 1-0)
(5) Michigan State (16-17-2) at (4) Notre Dame (16-14-5), 4:30 p.m.
(6) Penn State (20-14-1) at (3) Ohio State (19-13-3), 5 p.m.
(7) Wisconsin (13-22-0) at (2) Michigan (21-11-3), 7 p.m.
Sunday’s games (if necessary)
(5) Michigan State at (4) Notre Dame, 6 p.m.
(6) Penn State at (3) Ohio State, 5 p.m.
(7) Wisconsin at (2) Michigan, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 11
Lowest seed remaining at (1) Minnesota (25-8-1)
Second lowest seed remaining at second highest seed remaining
Saturday, March 18
Semifinal winners at highest seed remaining