An important night in ND Hockey played out at Compton Family Ice Arena. The Irish needed to set themselves up for a possible share of the B1G Regular Season title with a win and some help. Coming into Friday evening, the Irish beat Michigan last week with a sweep and an important six points. Building on that could set the table for a tie for first place. Cale Morris started the evening with his 100th start between the pipes for the Irish. From there, it’s about coming out with a win.
The first period moved very fast. The Irish peppered shots on goal early Spartans goalie John Lethemon. Four of their first five shots were on goal and the Irish were setting the pace for the game. The Irish defense spread the Spartans out and were holding control of the defensive zone. After the penalty kill by the Irish, Alex Steeves sent a laser shot on goal but the from the left side face-off circle. Moments later in the Spartans offensive end, after a face-off won by MSU Tommy Apap puts a kiss on the puck from Butrus Ghafari to put the Spartans up 1-0 at 13:43. You could see the momentum swing in the emotion of the Spartan players to end the period.
The second period started really quick for the Fightin’ Irish. The way the Irish were going to crawl out of the goal deficit was going to have to come via a quick goal. And that is exactly what happened. At 1:23, Theisen from outside the right face-off circle gets the puck past Lethemon and lights the lamp. The momentum gained by the Spartans had been nullified by the Theisen goal or you would hope.
The Irish were put immediately on the defensive. The Spartans gained back the momentum they had lost for that short period of time by firing five shots on Cale Morris in approximately three minutes. On the sixth shot, Dennis Cesana fires a shot from the left side face-off circle to give the Spartans the lead back at 5:53 and a lead of 2-1. After the goal by MSU, the Irish offense tried to turn on the heat again. This time Lethemon was not going to surrender the lead. Lethemon defended nine shots on goal allowing zero of them to get past him. He was back in the zone. Late in the period at 15:16, Logan Lambdin, scored for MSU to give them an insurance goal. After the hard work of coming out hot, the Irish defense gave up two more goals and trail 3-1 going into the second intermission.
Notre Dame Hockey Band
The third period was about defense for the Spartans. The Irish had their fair share of opportunities. At 9:56 the Irish went on the Power Play and were unable to convert on the man advantage. At 15:12 the Irish went back to the Power Play , fifty seconds later Coach Jackson pulls Morris for the extra attacker an a 6-4 advantage, but Lethemon was able to weather the storm. After the penalty kill by the Spartans, The Irish remained a man up the rest of the way. There was no solution to Lethemon at the end of the day. The Irish lose a heart breaker 3-1 and are mathematically eliminated from the top two spots in the B1G Hockey Conference standings.