EAST LANSING, Mich. — Friday night’s game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish involved teams so closely matched their similarities are worth noting.
Is it any surprise it took 39 minutes and 19 seconds for a number other than zero to appear on the scoreboard?
But eventually, all good things have to come to an end, as the Spartans and junior assistant captain Adam Nightingale finally solved Cey en route to a 3-1 victory.
The first goal came off Spartan freshman defenseman A.J. Thelen’s stick, with only 41seconds remaining in the second period, on a pass from freshman forward Tom Goebel behind the Irish net, with the second assist going to Nightingale.
Nightengale struck again in the third period, this time with teammate Colton Fretter in the penalty box, just over ten minutes into the period, to give his team the 2-0 lead. Thirty-one seconds later, in his defensive zone and still shorthanded, Nightengale coughed up the puck — a mistake that cost Vicari his bid for a second shutout in as many games.
“You get up by two, you think that should be enough, (Nightingale) makes a great play to get a goal, then turns it over to get up one,” Spartan coach Rick Comley said.
“It was my fault,” Nightingale admitted. “It was a stupid play by me.”
Notre Dame sophomore Mike Walsh found the puck on his stick in front of Vicari and floated it over his shoulder to get rid of the zero on the Irish side of the scoreboard.
“I think the guys who came out on the ice after that did a great job knowing there was still time on the power play, took their advantage and didn’t let it get to them. It was a huge goal, it kept the crowd a little bit more quiet and brought us right back into it,” Irish senior captain Aaron Gill said.
The Irish pulled Cey with a little over a minute left in the game, but Spartan Mike Lalonde found the back of the net on a pass from Nightengale to finish the scoring.
“Goaltending was pretty good on both sides,” Fighting Irish coach Dave Poulin said. “Obviously the shorthanded goal was the critical point. We came back and answered right after, so it doesn’t look as critical.
“Overall, it’s a one-goal game.”
“We played all right,” Gill said. “We did some good things, but then we had a couple shifts where we let them into the game …. It wasn’t too bad, there are just little things we can do better.
“Guys know the roles on the team pretty well, and guys who need to get out there and put up points need to get out there and do that,” Gill added. “We need to get some more quality shots, work the corners a little and get the puck down low in their defensive zone.”
“It was a good game — very even, very hard-fought. I like their team. They get the puck up and down, they have good goaltending and they protect rebounds.” Comley said.
The Spartans and Irish meet again Saturday night at Munn Arena, with the drop set for 7:05 p.m.