Spartans drop game against No. 3 Notre Dame in shootout

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John Lethemon/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

Kyle Hatty, Hockey Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING – No. 3 Notre Dame went on the road to play Michigan State at Munn Ice Arena on Friday night for a pivotal game early on in conference play. Both teams came into the series ranked second and third in the Big ten, respectively. 

The Spartans trailed the Fighting Irish by four points  for the second place spot in the conference. Both teams got a point since the game went into overtime, but Notre Dame gained the extra point after winning it in a shootout by a score of 2-1. Michigan State won in faceoffs 34-27, and Notre Dame won in shots 38-20.

“I thought our guys worked real hard,” said Danton Cole “They got a bounce at the end and unfortunately got it in there, but it was an exciting game and I thought we played real well.”

The first period started off very slow, as there was little to no action for the first half of the period. The game started with a defensive and physical undertone, as many people expected. John Lethemon was stellar in net, turning away nine shots in the first period to keep Notre Dame off the board, and keeping his team in the game, which struggled to generate offense early on.

The middle period was much of the same, until a Sam Saliba tip-in goal from a Cole Krygier shot from the point made it 1-0 Spartans early in the second. The rest of the period was even and disciplined from both sides. After the goal, neither team generated a goal or committed a penalty—partly because the officiating crew knew how both teams operated and allowed the game to be physical.

Notre Dame came out in the final period and tried to get a quick one to avoid playing catch-up late in the period, but shot-blocking and good positioning by the Spartan defense kept Notre Dame off the board. It stayed that way until late in the third when Notre Dame tied it up on a rebound from Michael Graham while the Irish net was empty.

 The overtime period started 4-on-4 following offsetting penalties after regulation ended that carried into the overtime period. But the 5-on-5 and 3-on-3 overtimes ended with the game still knotted at one. The teams went into a shootout to decide who got the extra point.

John Lethemon was named first star in the Big Ten, and third star nationally last week after two strong outings, including a shutout against Michigan. On Friday, he continued his strong play against the No. 3 team in the nation. Lethemon faced tough shots all night and did not look rattled once, turning away 37 shots. Lethemon went 148 straight minutes without letting up a goal before the Notre Dame equalizer.

“All that stuff is just noise,” said goalie John Lethemon, talking about his shutout streak. “You just want to stay focused on blocking the next shot.”

UP NEXT:

Michigan State (5-5-1, 3-1-1 Big Ten) will play No. 3 Notre Dame (8-1-2, 4-1-2 Big Ten) again on Saturday at Munn Ice Arena for the last game of the weekend series at 7 p.m.

Contact Kyle Hatty at kylehatty14@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @KyleHattyIN