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Monday, Feb. 26, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame ties one game, drops another on the road against Michigan State

This weekend the No. 3 Notre Dame hockey team recorded their worst series of the season, tying Michigan State in the first game and losing the second game in the series to the Spartans (6-5-1, 4-1-0 Big Ten). Prior to this game throughout the Irish (8-2-2, 4-2-2 Big Ten) season the team had only lost one game to No. 16 Wisconsin 3-0 on the road and tied one to Minnesota 2-2 on the road.

While the first game Friday logistically went down as a tie, it was far more promising than the second, as the Irish were able to pull off the extra point for Big Ten standings at the Spartans’ home rink, Munn Ice Arena.

Grace Aubry | The Observer
Irish sophomore forward Cam Burke gets hit by a defender during Notre Dame's 2-1 win over Ohio State on Nov. 9 at the Compton Family Ice Arena.

The Irish were down 1-0 heading into the third period and pulled senior goalkeeper Cale Morris with two minutes remaining in the period. With an extra attacker on the ice, sophomore forward Michael Graham was able to find the back of the net for the first time this season when he passed out wide to a teammate, who fired a shot that bounced off the goalie and several other Spartan defenders before Graham was able to swoop in and get the puck into the goal with 1:39 remaining in the game.

The game went into overtime, and the five-on-five overtime period ended in a stalemate. The game would proceed to a shootout to determine who would get the win in terms of Big Ten standings. In the shootout, Morris was able to make a save against the Spartans, and senior defenseman Tory Dello was able to make his shot to give the Irish a win in the conference against the Spartans in the standings.

The next night, the Spartans struck with a vengeance after Dello’s shootout goal. Notre Dame was able to get off to an early lead 2:20 into the first period when senior forward Mike O’Leary was able to fire a good shot when the Irish were up a man in the power play. Junior forward Colin Theisen stole the puck from a Spartan defenseman and passed to senior forward Cam Morrison below the goal line, who centered it to O’Leary for his sixth goal of the season.

Morris was also off to a good start after the first period, managing to save all 11 of Michigan State’s shots in the first period.

Midway through the second, each team found a player in the penalty box, and the teams were locked in an intense four-on-four matchup. Senior Cal Burke nearly extended the Irish lead to two goals, but his wrist shot bounced off of the goal post and was corralled by senior Spartans goalkeeper John Lethemon.

Michigan State was able to tie up the game seven minutes into the second period, when Spartans senior forward Sam Saliba found himself one-on-one with Irish goalkeeper Cale Morris after an offensive zone faceoff.

Following this, the Spartans recorded back-to-back penalties and the Irish were playing up two — men five on three — but the Irish failed to convert on this opportunity, as the power play continued into the third period. The game was still tied at 1-1 heading into the final period. The Irish were able to regain the lead just under a minute into the third period when sophomore defenseman Nick Leivermann was able to record his third goal of the season off of a slapshot from the high slot.

Burke had another near-make following this goal, which likely would have yet again pushed the game into overtime, but Lethemon was able to to make a pad stop to keep the Irish lead at just one goal at 2-1.

Michigan State was once again able to tie up the game seven minutes into the final period when senior forward Logan Lambdin was able to sneak a shot past Morris, tying the game up at 2-2 with 13 minutes remaining in the contest.

Morris redeemed himself with a pair of saves after Lambdin got in close on two more occasions. With just over a minute remaining, Saliba was able to slip another shot past Morris in the low slot to give the Spartans a 3-2 lead. After this goal Morris was pulled from the net just moments later, in hopes the Irish would be able to pull off another late game-saving goal like they did in the previous game. But this strategy ultimately proved unsuccessful, and the game ended with the Spartans up 3-2.

Next up, the Irish will return home following the four-game road trip to host a series against Bowling Green at Compton Family Ice Arena. Both games will start at 7 p.m., with the first played Friday and the second Sunday.