EAST LANSING -- The Michigan State hockey team dropped its second of two weekend games with Notre Dame on Saturday night at Munn Ice Arena, falling to the eighth-ranked Fighting Irish, 2-1. Patrick Khodorenko scored his second goal in as many games for the Spartans (4-6, 0-2 B1G).
“We did a lot of things right and that’s what you need to focus on moving forward,” MSU head coach Danton Cole said. “We said that was a good hockey team that we played right with for 120 minutes this weekend. We’ll take that out of it and move forward.”
The Spartans carried the play in the opening 20 minutes, outshooting Notre Dame 12-5, which included several quality opportunities.
Michigan State was eventually rewarded early in the second period as Khodorenko scored seven seconds after the expiration of a power play at the 3:47 mark. Cody Milan corralled the loose puck behind the net and threw it back to the point where Taro Hirose sent it on net. Notre Dame goalie Cale Morris stopped Hirose’s attempt, but the rebound shot out to Khodorenko in the right circle, who punched it home for his seventh goal of the season.
The MSU lead stood for less than four minutes as Notre Dame scored in a similar fashion to the Spartans with a rebound goal. Colin Theisen followed up Jake Pivonka’s shot off the rush at the 7:34 mark to make it 1-1.
Notre Dame (7-4-1, 4-2 B1G) claimed its first lead with 5:05 to go in the middle period when Cal Burke scored on the power play. From the right boards, Dylan Malmquist got the puck to Burke in the low slot who didn’t take any time in releasing a low shot past goaltender John Lethemon.
Notre Dame limited the Spartans’ scoring chances in the opening half of the third period, but the Spartans nearly tied it when with nine minutes to play, Khodorenko rang the crossbar with a shot from the slot. It marked the second straight night Khodorenko hit the crossbar in the latter stages of the third period.
A penalty to Notre Dame with 1:14 to play put the Spartans on the power play and Lethemon went to the bench for the extra attacker. The Spartans were able to set up in the Notre Dame zone and nearly tied the game on a couple of occasions, the best of which came off the stick of Mitchell Lewandowski with 15 seconds to go when he just missed putting the puck into a nearly empty net from off the right post.
“We had good chances; we moved it around. We had a couple chances on the back door and also a rebound,” Cole said. “Sometimes that’s the way the games go but I don’t want our guys to lose confidence from something like that. They did a lot of things right and that’s what you need to focus on moving forward.
“We can get something out of this weekend and we will; we’ll get better.”
The Spartans outshot Notre Dame for the second straight night, finishing with a 29-22 advantage. MSU was 0-for-4 on the power play, while Notre Dame was 1-for-2.
The Spartans travel to Minnesota next weekend to face the Golden Gophers on Friday and Saturday in Minneapolis.