Spartans Fall to No. 4 Notre Dame in Series Opener, 3-1
Taro Hirose scored in the loss.
EAST LANSING - Fourth-ranked Notre Dame topped the Michigan State hockey team 3-1 on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd of 6,392 at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans took a 1-0 lead in the first period but two Notre Dame goals in a 1:02 span of the second turned the tide in favor of the Fighting Irish.
"I thought our guys battled really hard, I thought they skated well and did a lot of things that we had talked about, particularly in the first and third periods," MSU head coach Danton Cole said. "I didn't think the second period was horrible by any means, but you look at the game and the first three goals were pucks around the net and guys banging them in. It was that kind of game, so unfortunately they got to two before we did and the third one obviously hurt a bit.
"I obviously not satisfied or happy with the outcome, but our guys battled hard and did some things well."
The Spartans (7-7-1, 1-5-1-1 Big Ten) controlled the opening period, holding Notre Dame (13-3-1, 7-0) without a shot for nearly the first 14 minutes.
A hard forechecking effort by the Spartans in the closing minute of the first period led to the first goal of the game. Brennan Sanford outdueled a Notre Dame defenseman for the puck behind the net and was able to send a pass in front. The puck bounced off Taro Hirose, then back to Sanford for a backhand try. Notre Dame goaltender Cale Morris stopped the backhander by Sanford, but Hirose jumped on the rebound and lifted it upstairs for his sixth goal of season.
MSU goaltender John Lethemon had to make just three stops in the opening 20 minutes but got busier in the second period. He stopped a pair of shots from the slot, but eventually Notre Dame found the back of the net twice in a 1:02 span to grab a 2-1 lead.
The first Notre Dame goal came with 8:30 to play as Jake Evans put home a rebound. Just 1:02 later, Evans turned from the left boards near the hash mark and threw a wrister toward the net that Cal Burke tipped from the slot into the top corner.
The Spartans had power play chances and the end of the second and then in the first half of the third period, but came up empty both times.
Notre Dame's Colin Theisen sealed the game with 2:18 to play, scoring off the rush from near the bottom of the right circle.
MSU outshot Notre Dame 12-4 in the third period and 30-18 for the game.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday at 7:05 p.m.