ND Hockey: Start Fast, Finish Strong

After a defensive battle on Friday night, how would the Irish respond on Saturday? Win and move on is the mindset that this young team needs to adopt. If you lose focus of the matters at hand, you will be left out. Playing smarter and stronger than your opponent is another key to advancing in the B1G Conference tournament. Keeping focus will keep this team advancing forward and keeping them in the discussion for the NCAA tournament.

First Period

Start Fast, Finish Strong is the motto that the 2018/2019 ND Hockey team has been following. Start fast has not been a consistent approach this team has been able to accomplish. When your back is against the wall and it’s playoff time, you give it your all. Less than 24 hours after their last game, the Fightin’ Irish answered the call early. 2:01 into the first period Pierce Crawford fired from the just in front of MSU Goalie John Lethemon for his second goal of the season.

After the goal by Crawford defense was the play of the day by both teams. Having more shots on goal is not always a key indicator. It’s the quality of the shots on goal. The Irish penalty kill was successful as they killed the two minute holding penalty charged to Jack Jenkins. MSU had two penalties late in the period. The first came at 18:50 and the second came at 20:00. The Irish power play did not convert on the 1:10 remaining on the first penalty heading into the first intermission. The first twenty minutes saw 15 shots attempted by the Spartans, while the Irish attempted 11. Cale Morris blocked all 10 shots on goal in the opening period. Morris was on an eighty minute run of scoreless goal-tending.

Second Period

The Irish open the second period with a 5-on-3 advantaged spilling over from the first period. MSU was able to hold off the Irish in the odd man advantage. At 2:50 after just completing a penalty kill, Patrick Khodorenko is sent to the sin bin for Interference. The MSU penalty kill again holds off the Irish. At 9:14 Andrew Peeke is sent to the box for Ind. CTH Elbow. 1:24 into the power play, one of the most exciting plays in hockey happens. Graham Slaggert takes the puck down the other end of the ice and lights the lamp. Slaggert converts on a short-handed goal. The Irish get that much needed insurance goal.

Despite the score, what it doesnt show is the effort put forth by MSU offense and the Irish defense. The Spartans attempted 21 shots, in which 7 were blocked by the Irish defense, 10 shots were on target and again Morris blocked everyone of them. Despite the imbalance of shots on goal cumulative for the Spartans equaled 20 and the Irish tally was 13, the Irish took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission.

Third Period

The Finish Strong aspect of the game came in the third period. MSU was not giving up. After all, they are the Spartans. The third period saw the Irish defense tighten up and deny the Spartans from advancing onto next weekend. MSU made a desperation move and added an extra attacker at 17:55 to give themselves and advantage. It was not enough to get them past the Irish. Despite 23 shot attempts, eight shots on goal, Morris delivered another shutout against MSU. The Irish survive and move on with the 2-0 win. With the win, the Irish improve to
(Overall 20-13-3, 12-11-2-2 B1G) 

Post Game Conferences

Coach Jackson

Shake Down The Thunder Sports Question to Coach Jackson: “It’s a tale of two different games. Friday night you come and you score late, tonight (Saturday) you come out firing and score in the first period. A pretty good turn around in a short time”

Coach Jackson Response: “My speech before the game was about consistency, it’s something we have lacked this year in all parts of our game. Saturday nights we would come out and shoot ourselves in the foot, generally give up the first goal, our take a penalty and give up the first goal. If we are going to do anything for the remainder of this season it’s going to be based upon consistency. You cant lose now, everything matters. You need to be consistent in all facets of the game.”

Pierce Crawford and Cale Morris

Shake Down The Thunder Sports question to Pierece Crawford: “Pierce after the first goal, you had a second attempt to get another goal. Did the game the game get a little easier, did it start coming to you after the first one?”

Pierce’s response: “Definitely once you get that momentum behind you. Your legs get a little lighter, you see the ice a little better, and that is just the game. To get a quick one, first off it was awesome for the team as we knew they we going to come out strong.”

Stars Of The Game

☘☘☘ Graham Slaggert 1 Goal 2 Shots

☘☘ Pierce Crawford 1 Goal 1 Shot

☘ Cale Morris 28 Saves

Next up

Next up for the Irish, it’s the semifinals against Minnesota. Minnesota comes in as the number three seed after taking care of business against Michigan in a sweep. The puck will drop at 7 P.M. at Compton Family Ice Arena and will be televised on the Big Ten Network. For ticket information click here.

Cheers and Go Irish!! ☘🥅🏒🚨⚡

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