Just when you thought you have witnessed it all, your Fightin’ Irish delivered another “defensive” cardiac performance. Playing against one of the top starting lines in the country, “KHL” Patrick Khodorenko (Jr), Taro Hirose (Jr), and Mitchell Lewandowski (So). This line has combined for 121 points. Khodorenko has 18 goals-19 assists (37), Hirose 15 goals-35 assists (50), and Lewandowski 18 goals-19 assists (37).
You may wonder, why this is significant? Coach Jackson is starting a Freshman line of Graham Slaggert, Jake Pivonka, and Alex Steeves. This line has a a combined 26 points. Slaggert 2 goals-5 assists (7), Pivonka 2 goals-8 assists (10), and Steeves 7 goals-2 assists (9). This is a testament to the faith Coach Jackson has in his players. Freshmen going up against Juniors and Sophmores. This is quite a development experience.
At the start of the game, both teams were focused on one thing, firing the puck. The Irish had the first quality shot at 2:48. Dylan Malmquist from outside the left hand face-off circle fired a one-timer and hits the post. The arena erupts in an “ooohhh” at the sound of the pipe being hit. The KHL line was getting their attempts in as well. But Cale Morris was not letting the Spartans have their way.
Both defenses were aggressive in the first quarter as well. The teams were spreading the offense and not allowing too many shots near the net. Both defenses had four blocks, MSU had eight shots on goal, while the Irish had seven of their own.
The second period can be described as a photocopy of the first. The big difference in the period is that the Irish lose Cam Burke for a Major Penalty five minutes for Checking From Behind, and a ten minute game misconduct penalty for
Checking From Behind. Steeves would serve the penalty as Burke had to leave the game. During the penalty kill, Morris blocked six shots including a laser from Logan Lambdin at 14:53. The penalty of five minutes was successfully killed of by the Irish.
Game one is building up to be a defensive battle. Both times were trying to find the back of the net. The Irish had four shots around the cage, while MSU had five. MSU defense had five blocks whie Irish defense had 3. MSU had 11 shots on goal for a total of 19, and the Irish had seven for a total 14. The third period is going to be a “cardiac” period for those that were in attendance.
The Irish have been playing under the slogan of “Start Fast, Finish Strong.” After the first two periods, the Irish find their offensive and defensive edge. The third period would start fast as Mike O’Leary brings Compton Family Ice arena to the feet at 2:28.
With the go ahead goal so early in the period, the Irish need to find a way not to allow the Spartans to tie or take the lead. This is a time for focused, smart hockey game play. Despite the continued push by the KHL line, one of the best in the country, MSU continued to try and score on the defense of the Irish, but they just couldn’t find a way to penetrate the “Brickwall” of Morris. Even with an extra attacker on the ice at 18:30, six MSU players could not get the job done against the Irish in the closing moments of the game.
Stars Of The Game
⭐⭐⭐ John Lethemon 23 Saves
☘☘ Mike O’Leary 1 Shot/1 Goal
☘ Cale Morris 27 Saves
The Irish will take on the Spartans in game two tonight at 7 P.M. If MSU wins this evening , game three will be back at Compton Family Ice Arena at 7 P.M. Cheers and Go Irish! ☘🚨🥅⚡🏒