EAST LANSING— The Michigan State Spartans started off strong but fizzled out late as they took a point against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish despite losing in a shootout. Here are a few takeaways from tonight’s loss:
1. DeRidder has a career night
After coming off a season-high 32 saves against Minnesota, Drew DeRidder outdid himself once again as he saved 47 shots against the Irish.
Notre Dame, who average nearly 29 shots on goal a game, came into tonight’s contest ranked No. 24 in shots on net per game. Tonight, the Fighting Irish blitzed DeRidder with 41 shots in three periods. The Irish would tack on seven more shots in the overtime period.
DeRidder was tasked with keeping Notre Dame at bay, but costly penalties provided many opportunities for the Irish to funnel pucks to the net. The Spartans accrued nine penalty minutes in the third; Notre Dame was able to outshoot the Spartans 32-9 in the second and third periods.
DeRidder’s only blemish on the night came in the second period when Irish forward Graham Slaggert was able to spin away from Tommy Miller and fire a cross-ice pass to Alex Steeves, who buried the puck in the back of the net to tie the game at one.
2. Spartans lose faceoff battle badly
The Spartans came into tonight’s contest leading the nation in faceoff percentage at a 61% clip; however, MSU went 48% in the faceoff circle tonight.
The Spartans were not only unable to get shots on Irish goalie Ryan Bischel, but they were unable to gain possession a majority of the time in the offensive zone thanks to Notre Dame forward Jake Pivonka.
Pivonka stymied the Spartans between the dots, winning 19 of his 31 draws. He accounted for over half of Notre Dame’s wins in the faceoff circle on the night. The Spartans struggled against Pivonka the entire night as Irish coach Jeff Jackson sent him in on important draws later in the game.
On the Michigan State side, Tommy Apap and Josh Nodler struggled as the two combined for 21 wins on 40 draws. Mitchell Mattson and Nico Muller couldn’t help soften the blow as they both went under 50% in faceoff wins as well. Muller took the place of Kristoff Papp; Papp was inserted back into the lineup at left wing.
Notre Dame came into the game winning around 54% of their draws, which is exactly what happened tonight. The Spartans will need to dictate the pace of play against Notre Dame’s zone defense on Sunday, and that starts with winning faceoffs.
3. Notre Dame generates consistent offensive pressure
The Spartans opened the game by holding Notre Dame to two shots through the first 10 minutes.
In true fashion, the Irish clawed their way back and ended the first period with nine shots on goal. However, Notre Dame would proceed to outshoot the Spartans 39-9 over the final three periods. The Irish were able to pin MSU in its own zone for the majority of the game and throw pucks at the net with regularity.
MSU’s self-inflicted damage in the third period caused them to get outshot 19-5, and if it weren’t for DeRidder’s exceptional performance, this game would not have gone to overtime. Though the Irish were unable to cash in on the multitude of chances that they generated, they showed spurts of high-quality play and effortless passing.
The Spartans (2-3-2) and Irish (4-4-1) will close out their weekend series tomorrow at 5 p.m.