After Friday nights win over Michigan State, I was thinking, How do you top a win like the Irish had? Expectations can be built into a thought process. As an Aerospace Quality Engineer, it’s all about repeatable processes in which something is manufactured. (You can appreciate that when you get onto an airplane. ) The one thing that is not repeatable in sports is the players and game situations. Each game has it’s own personality or in my business work conditions. The events of Saturday night clearly prove that theory correctly.
The first period goes back to what I said in the introduction. The Irish who played a penalty free period on Friday night had three penalties. The first penalty came at 2:02 by Tory Dello, the second at 6:17, and the third at 9:28. That is a long series of penalty killing, Almost one-third of the period was spent on the penalty kill and no power play goals allowed. The Irish actually played a balanced offensive and defensive period.
Statistically both teams played balanced first period. Total shots attempted 14-10 Irish, Irish let the Shots On Goal category 10-5, and no goals allowed by either goalie. Both teams understood the importance of game two in the series as every game is like playing in the playoffs, every point counts. The Spartans also replaced Junior goalie John Lethermon with Freshman goalie Drew DeRidder. The teams after 20 minutes were knotted at zero.
The second period starting like a spark for the Spartans. After just having a conversation with one of the media guys about the Irish needing to jump start the second period, the complete opposite happened. 33 seconds into the period, the Spartans Taro Hirose from in front of the crease fires the puck to light the lamp and give the Spartans a quick 1-0 lead. The first intermission discussion appeared to motivate the Spartans first line. You could feel the atmosphere change in the arena.
After the goal, the Irish offense and defense shook off the quick goal and went back to work. Both teams played a penalty period and the Irish offense was firing at will on goalie DeRidder. DeRidder appeared not to be rattled by the Irish attack and managed to keep the Irish off the scoreboard. The period ended with the Irish leading the Shots Attempted category 17-13, Shots On Goal 12-7, but the important category went to the Spartans who got one by Morris.
The third period started for the Spartans like it did for the first for the Irish. The Spartans spent the one third of the third period on the penalty kill. The penalties came at 1:02, 3:54, and 7: Irish tried to take advantage of the power play, but they couldn’t get the puck by DeRidder. Sometimes a coach will look for a spark and it appeared that DeRidder was having that kind of night. During the Irish power play, Hirose was looking for his second goal on the night on a short-handed rush but was denied by the pipe behind Cale Morris. On the third power play for the Irish, Jake Pivonka almost got the equalizer at 9:48, but he hit the pipe as well behind DeRidder. The puck appeared to have gone in, but its a game of millimeters and play continued.
There is a cliche in sports and it is used when a fan’s team is playing from behind. “It’s getting late early”, which means early on the team is running out of time to make something happen. Well, it was getting really, really late for the Irish. After three power play attempts and killing off another penalty kill, Bobby Nardella fires a shot from the Deridder’s left side face-off circle and puts the biscuit in the net and lights the lamp at 17:00. The crowd of 4,876 erupted in celebration as Nardella assisted by Graham Slaggert and Pivonka celebrated on the ice.
The only thing left to do was score again, or play good defense and take the game to Overtime. Well, the Irish didn’t score, they played good defense and that means “Free Hockey” as they call it in the TV business.
The rules on OT are as follows: one minute break from the end of the game, five on five hockey for five minutes. If the team wins in the first overtime they are awarded all three points, a tie each team will receive one point. If that is not enough to break the tie, the game goes to three on three hockey for five minutes. The winner of the three on three will win an additional point. If that is not enough to do the job, a hockey fan’s favorite moment, penalty shots to settle the game. The winner of the shoot-out as with the second overtime gets an additional point for a total of two points.
First Overtime 5 On 5
Michigan State wanted this win bad. Though only two points available for the taking, every point is important. The Spartans attempted 14 shots compared to the Irish who only got three attempts. One of the shots by the Spartans was actually denied by the goal pipes as it made a loud “clanking” noise. Morris had four saves during the first overtime. The first overtime is not enough for either team. This teams forced them into a second overtime. (one point for each team)
Second Overtime 3 On 3
The second overtime saw fewer shots by the Spartans as the Irish defended a little bit better, and having fewer players on the ice is tougher to develop a scoring situation. Both teams had Shots On Goal, Michigan State again topped the the Irish 3-2 in that category. As they say in sports, “it ain’t over till it’s over”, and it wasn’t over in the second overtime. (No points for either team)
Sudden Death Penalty Shots
As I am writing this, I can tell you the emotion of reliving this is just crazy. This is the first Sudden Death Penalty shots to occur inside Compton Family Ice Arena. Everyone in attendance was waiting to see the results of the “Sudden Death” penalty shots.
The Irish go first in the penalty shots period. Coach Jackson puts Bobby Nardella out first and he is denied by DeRidder. The Spartans put out Taro Hirose who scored the Spartans only goal of the game and he is denied by Cale “Brickwall” Morris. Round one is over. Round two, Coach Jackson puts out defensemen Tory Dello. Dello maneuver’s the puck and changes his speed as he moved towards the DeRidder and gets the puck past him. The Irish go up 1-0 in the second round. Michigan State must now put the puck in the net to continue play. Mitch Lewandowski is denied by Morris and the Irish win the Sudden Death penalty shots and collect two points total for the night. Overall, the Irish picked up five of the six points available for the second weekend in a row.
Coach Jackson Post Game Conference
The press conference starts with question to coach. Media Question: “What do you think as time is running out and Bobby Nardella knocks one in?” Coach Jackson’s Response: “It’s good that we came back and tied the game. They played a great game defensively, they really didn’t give us a lot. We got chances, but really not second chances. They did a good job shutting down our power play.” “I was pleased with our resilience, we were patient.” Next Question from the Media: “Why did you go with Tory Dello second guy? Coach Jackson’s Response: “He is our best guy in the shoot-out when we have shoot-outs on Thursday. People are probably questioning why am I using a defensemen, anybody that can beat Cale Morris on a regular basis, I was surprised I didn’t use him first.”
Shake Down The Thunder Sports asked Coach Jackson a question: “Coach, the guys go 5 on 5 for the first part of overtime, then 3 on 3, whats the message on keeping their mind on the end game?” Coach Jackson’s response: “I talked to them after each segment. 5 on 5 you don’t change your game, you don’t play passive. You can’t play to lose, you got to play to win. 3 on 3 is still work in progress for me. I knew that they came out with three forwards, so I made decision to go one D and two forwards. I decided to play a little more conservative.”
Tory Dello Press Conference
☘☘☘ Bobby Nardella 1 Goal
⭐⭐Drew Deridder 34 Saves
☘ Cale Morris 29 Saves
Next up for the Irish are the Ohio State Buckeyes for a two game series February 1st and 2nd.
Cheers and Go Irish!! ☘⚡