March 17, 2000
DETROIT, Mich. – Michigan State scored in the first five minutes while holding Notre Dame to one of its lowest shot totals of the season, as the Spartans posted a 4-0 victory in Central Collegiate Hockey Association semi-final action late Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Notre Dame (16-18-8)–which unveiled special green uniforms in honor of making the program’s first trip to the CCHA semi-finals since 1982, in addition to the obvious Saint Patrick’s Day connections–managed just a handful of quality scoring chances versus an effective MSU defense, with the 20 Irish shots ranking as the team’s fewest in the last 16 games.
Michigan State (26-10-4)–which next will take on a Nebraska-Omaha team that posted a 7-4 semi-final win over top-seeded Michigan–took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission, after goals from junior right wing Rustyn Dolyny and senior center Shawn Horcoff before sophomore defenseman Andrew Hutchinson struck on the power play, just 11 seconds before the teams were to go to the lockerrooms.
The Irish elected to pull freshman goaltender Tony Zasowski for a 6-on-4 advantage late in the game, but MSU sophomore right wing Adam Hall hustled his way to an empty-net goal with 1:46 to play for the final score.
Zasowski narrowly set the Notre Dame record for season goals-against average (2.56, just below Forrest Karr’s 2.58 from the year before) but that was small consolation for the disappointing loss that ended the Irish season.
Junior left wing Damon Whitten set up MSU’s first goal with a pass from behind the net. Dolyny was waiting at the right side of the crease and quickly lifted the puck over Zasowski’s shoulder for his 16th goal of the season and his third in the last two games versus the Irish (5:27).
A costly Irish turnover behind the net led to the night’s second goal, with Horcoff collecting the puck and banking a shot off Zasowski’s left pads for his 13th goal of the season (15:05).
Hutchinson’s fourth goal of the season proved just as costly, as the Spartans were able to pad their advantage heading into the first intermission. Hutchinson broke free on Zasowski and tried to beat the goaltender with a shot between the legs. Zasowski batted the puck to his left but Hutchinson managed to sweep the puck into the net as he went flying by (19:49).
The quick 3-0 deficit presented a tough challenge for the Irish, whose last comeback from a three-goal deficit came on Oct. 17, 1997 (a 4-3 overtime win at St. Cloud State).
Hall’s empty-netter required some work, after the Spartans had misfired on a shot from their own end of the ice. Hall beat the Irish to the puck behind the net and flung his body around the cage, tucking a shot inside the right post for his 24th goal of the season (18:14).
NOTRE DAME 0 0 0 – 0
MICHIGAN STATE 3 0 1 – 4
1st: MSU 1. Dolyny 16 (Whitten) 5:27, MSU 2. Horcoff 13 (Maloney) 15:05, MSU 3. Hutchinson 4 (Patchell, Whitten), PP, 19:49.
3rd: MSU 4. Hall 24 (Horcoff) 18:14.
Shots: ND 4-7-9/20, MSU 12-10-11/33.
Saves: ND (Zasowski) 9-10-10/29, MSU (Miller) 4-7-9/20.
Power Play: ND 0-for-5, MSU 1-for-3.
Penalties: ND 7 for 14:00, MSU 7 for 14:00.