EAST LANSING, Mich. — The last thing Michigan State (8-9-1, 5-7-0 CCHA) wanted to do was get swept at the hands of Notre Dame (4-9-4, 3-8-3) before heading into the break. After dropping an overtime game in South Bend Friday, Saturday’s game became critical for MSU to gain some much-needed momentum heading into the second half.
And with the game deadlocked at 1 late in the third period, the Spartans scored twice within a minute to rip an otherwise-tight game open, scoring four unanswered goals en route to a 4-1 win at Munn Arena.
“We have the break coming up and it was so important [for the players] to be able to do it with a smile on their faces. They can have a positive break right now,” said MSU coach Rick Comley. “Emotionally, it’s been so hard for our players. It’s been a disappointing semester, but we’ve outshot people and done a lot of really good things.”
Ash Goldie broke the tie for MSU with 7:17 remaining in the game. Colton Fretter, Kevin Estrada, and Goldie came down the ice on a three-on-two. Fretter drove the puck down the middle of the ice, and dropped a pass to Goldie at the top of the right circle. The puck skipped away from him, but he was able to stickhandle through a defender’s legs and find daylight through Notre Dame’s goaltender David Brown’s pads for the eventual game-winner.
Just 40 seconds after Goldie made it 2-1, Tommy Goebel roofed a shot over Brown’s shoulder from an extremely difficult angle to give the Spartans some much-needed breathing room.
State captain Jim Slater picked up a loose puck in the slot and fed it wide to Goebel at the bottom of the right circle. With his momentum carrying him toward the end boards, the sophomore forward fired a perfect shot to jostle Brown’s water bottle and put MSU ahead for good.
After scoring the first two goals of the game for Michigan State, Goldie added an empty-netter with 30 ticks left on the clock to complete his first career hat trick and give his team two important league points.
“Ash showed us some good leadership. We know he can score, he’s proven over the years that he can score. Tonight he got some critical goals for us,” said Comley.
Brown was outstanding despite giving up two goals in the final frame. Had it not been for his efforts, the Irish likely would have been out of the game early, after being outshot 31-7 through two periods, at least a quarter of which were second and third chances from point-blank range.
“David was real solid. He probably wants the second one back, but other than that he was really solid. We’ve got to have great goaltending to win as do a lot of teams in this league,” said Notre Dame coach Dave Poulin.
The Irish jumped out to a 1-0 lead after a scoreless first. Less than a minute into the second period, Josh Sciba scored a power-play goal on Notre Dame’s fifth shot of the game, firing a puck from the point that ricocheted off the post and Spartan netminder Dom Vicari before dribbling into the back of the net.
Wes O’Neill was credited with the primary assist, carrying his hot play over from the previous night. The sophomore defenseman scored an extra attacker goal to send the game to overtime last night, taking over as the Irish’s leading scorer in the process.
Sciba’s tally, however, would be the only score of the game for Notre Dame as a relatively untested Dom Vicari made some key saves to keep State in the hunt.
With the game tied midway through the third frame, Vicari made three consecutive stops on Notre Dame’s Tim Wallace from the bottom of the circles. After being stopped twice, Wallace, determined to score, tried to lifting the puck over the Vicari’s shoulder from a sharp angle, but the keeper came out to the top of the paint and flashed a nifty glove to end the threat.
“He made some big saves and is playing very well right now. It was a good weekend for Dom and we should have had two wins for him this weekend,” said Comley
After a lackluster performance last weekend with the Irish being outscored 14-1 by Michigan, Notre Dame saw this weekend as an opportunity to rebound against a quality opponent.
“Particularly coming off of last weekend, it was incredibly important for us to put together some momentum and be able to take two points from Michigan State,” said Poulin. “We played our best game of the year on Friday, and had a chance to win this game tied in the third period.”
Both Notre Dame and Michigan State will hope to use this weekend to turn their seasons around in the second half. After success last season, each has struggled to this point.
“The break may be the best thing for everybody right now. There are too many players in that room that have the ability to score [for us to struggle all semester]. We may come out in the second half and just blow the roof off,” said Comley. “We haven’t yet, but I think it’s entirely possible.”
The next contest for the Spartans will come in the Great Lakes Invitational against New Hampshire. The Irish will open 2005 with a New Year’s Day tilt with RPI.