Michigan State icers even Big Ten tournament series with 4-2 win over Notre Dame

John Fineran
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — No. 20 Michigan State provided No. 17 Notre Dame a very painful lesson early Saturday evening how a hockey team facing the end of its season needs to react.

Sunday, the college hockey world will see how much coach Jeff Jackson’s Fighting Irish learned as they now face the very same possibility.

Needing a victory to keep their season alive, first-year coach Adam Nightingale’s determined Spartans out-fought, outshot and outhustled the Irish much of the game and rallied for a 4-2 victory to even the teams’ Big Ten Tournament first-round series at one victory each. 

Game 1:Bischel makes Silianoff’s goal stand up in No. 17 Irish 1-0 shutout of Spartans

The Spartans (17-17-2) and Irish (16-15-5) meet again Sunday night at 6 on the Lefty Smith Rink inside the Compton Family Ice Arena with a spot in the league semifinals March 11 and a possible NCAA Tournament invitation awaiting the winner. If Michigan State loses, its season is over, and the same could be true for Notre Dame which would have to wait until Sunday, March 19 to see if its .500 record would be good enough to gain an at-large berth to a seventh NCAA appearance.

“They played more desperate than us,” Jackson said. “That’s what it boiled down to. Their season was on the line, and we didn’t match that, and tomorrow we’re going to have to.”

Michigan State outshot Notre Dame 13-1 to start the game and absorbed a knockdown as senior right wing Solag Bakich scored his third goal of the season at 17:13 to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead after the first period. Defenseman Ben Brinkman sent Bakich down the middle on a breakaway and Trevor Janicke soon made it a 2-on-0 Irish break before Bakich received a pass back from Janicke to beat MSU goalie Dylan St. Cyr.

The goal gave Notre Dame football coach Marcus Freeman and Irish partisans in the sellout crowd of 5,198 hopes for an Irish sweep. But Michigan State junior right wing Jeremy Davidson tied it at 8:38 of the second period following a nifty cross-ice feed from senior center Nicolas Müller with the Spartans on a power play. Michigan State then took the lead for good on freshman defenseman Matt Basgall’s even-strength goal at 16:37 of the period.

Michigan State struck for two goals early in the third period against beleaguered Irish goalie Ryan Bischel to make it 4-1. Davidson set up junior defenseman Nash Nienhuis’ game-winner at 3:27 and then freshman center Karsen Dorwart tough-angle 10-footer at 5:34 dug Notre Dame’s hole even deeper.

Notre Dame forward Brady Bjork (23) skates with the puck as Michigan State defenseman David Gucciardi (7) defends during the Michigan State-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Saturday, March 04, 2023, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

Notre Dame’s Jack Adams scored eight minutes after Dorwart with Notre Dame on a power play and after Jackson had pulled Bischel for a sixth attacker. But the Irish could get no closer as the 5-foot-8 St. Cyr, a 2021 graduate of Notre Dame, stood even taller for the Spartans, making six saves in the final five minutes, most of which Notre Dame played without Bischel in goal. 

St. Cyr improved his record against his former team to 3-2-1 by making 31 saves. Bischel, who had 36 in Friday’s 1-0 shutout, finished with 28 saves, 16 of them in the first period.

“We definitely need to get off to a better start against them,” Jackson said.

Michigan State goaltender Dylan St. Cyr (37) makes the save during the Michigan State-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Saturday, March 04, 2023, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana.

Notre Dame eventually battled back from its huge shot deficit early to take a 17-16 lead in shots early in the second period but couldn’t solve St. Cyr, who made four saves with the Irish on an early power play which began at 4:33. Then Grant Silianoff, who scored the goal in Notre Dame’s 1-0 victory Friday, took a boarding penalty at 7:26, further awakening the Spartans.

“The whole game changed from that point on,” Jackson said. “Our defensive awareness was not great, especially in our own end. They are very aggressive, they pressure hard. When our wings don’t do a good job along the walls, we turn pucks over.”

And if Notre Dame doesn’t stop doing that Sunday, it’s season could be over.


At Lefty Smith Rink in Compton Family Ice Arena, South Bend

Michigan State000— 4
Notre Dame101— 2

First Period—Scoring: 1. Notre Dame, Solag Bakich 3 (Trevor Janicke, Ben Brinkman) EV 17:13. Penalties: Michigan State 1-2, Notre Dame 0-0. Second Period—Scoring: 2. Michigan State, Jeremy Davidson 8 (Nicolas Müller, David Gucciardi) PP 8:38. 3. Michigan State, Matt Basgall 4 (Tiernan Shoudy, Daniel Russell) EV 16:37. Penalties (total): Michigan State 1-2 (2-4), Notre Dame 1-2 (1-2). Third Period—Scoring: 4. Michigan State, Nash Nienhuis 4 (Jeremy Davidson, Nicolas Müller) EV 3:27. 5. Michigan State, Karsen Dorwart 10 (Daniel Russell) EV 5:34. 6. Notre Dame, Jack Adams 7 (Drew Bavaro, Hunter Strand) PP, EX 13:34. Penalties (total): Michigan State 1-2 (3-6), Notre Dame 0-0 (1-2).

Shots on goal: Michigan State 32 (16-7-9), Notre Dame 33 (8-12-13). Goalie saves: Michigan State, Dylan St. Cyr 31 (7-12-12), Notre Dame, Ryan Bischel 28 (16-5-7).

Power-play opportunities: Michigan State 1 of 1, Notre Dame 1 of 3. Faceoffs won: Michigan State 25 (7-10-8), Notre Dame 24 (12-2-10). Blocked shots: Michigan State 16 (5-5-6), Notre Dame 28 (9-11-8).

Referees: Jonathon Sitarski and Jake Rekucki. Linesmen: Pat Richardson and Nick Huff. Attendance: 5,198 (4,852). Records: Michigan State 17-17-2, Notre Dame 16-15-5.



Best-of-3 series

Friday’s results

(4) Notre Dame 1, (5) Michigan State 0

(2) Michigan 6, (7) Wisconsin 5 (OT)

(3) Ohio State 5, (6) Penn State 1

Saturday’s games

(5) Michigan State 4, (4) Notre Dame 2 (series tied 1-1)

(6) Penn State 2, (3) Ohio State 1 (OT) (series tied 1-1)

(2) Michigan 7, (7) Wisconsin 4 (Michigan wins series, 2-0)

Sunday’s games

(5) Michigan State (17-17-2) at (4) Notre Dame (16-15-5), 6 p.m.

(6) Penn State (21-14-1) at (3) Ohio State (19-14-3), 5 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 18Semifinal winners at highest seed remaining