Nov. 18, 2006
East Lansing, Mich. – For the Notre Dame hockey team, Michigan State’s Munn Arena has not been nice to the Irish in the last 13-14 years. That fact did not change on Saturday night as the fourth-ranked Spartans, behind the goaltending of sophomore Jeff Lerg, handed the fifth-ranked Irish a 2-0 shutout loss.
The loss snapped Notre Dame’s nine-game unbeaten streak (8-0-1) that started on Oct. 20 and dropped the Irish to 9-2-1 overall and 4-1-1 in the CCHA. Michigan State improved to 6-3-1 overall and 4-3-1 in conference action. The two top-10 teams split the weekend series with each team taking a home-ice victory.
Since Notre Dame returned to the CCHA for the 1992-93 season, the Irish have won just two games at Munn Arena in 22 appearances as the record moves to 2-19-1 at the home of the Spartans.
“I don’t think we were as crisp tonight as last we were at home last night,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson. “They got to the puck first tonight where we were doing that last night. Both teams took advantage of playing on home ice.”
After a scoreless first period, Michigan State broke through with a power-play goal at 3:39. Bryan Lerg whipped a shot past David Brown in the Notre Dame goal off a cross-ice feed from Jim McKenzie for his seventh goal of the season to give the Spartans the 1-0 lead.
They would seal the victory early in the third period when Tim Crowder drilled a wrist shot over Brown’s glove from the top of the right-wing circle just 1:18 into the final stanza for the 2-0 lead.
From there, Lerg held the Irish at bay as he finished with 25 saves on the night.
Ryan Thang came the closest when he broke through the Spartan defense at the hash marks all alone and fired a shot wide to the 5-6, 155-pound goaltender’s glove side.
A late power-play opportunity provided another Irish scoring bid as Erik Condra came up with a loose puck to the right of Lerg, who got his stick down to stop the scoring bid.
“You have to give their goalie (Lerg) credit. I thought that if we could score a goal and get some momentum we could get back in the game, but he made some big saves when he had to,” said Jackson. “We had a chance on a breakaway and a couple of chances in tight and he made the stops. If we’re going to lose, it’s going to be a game that we just can’t get the puck in.”
On the night, Notre Dame out shot Michigan State by a 25-17 margin. Brown saw his eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1) snapped with the loss.
The Irish now go back on the road for the Thanksgiving holiday as they travel to Omaha, Neb., to face Nebraska-Omaha on Fri.-Sat., Nov. 24-25. Game time on Friday night is 7:05 p.m. (CST) and Saturday’s contest starts at 7:35 p.m. (CST).
** For the 11th time in 12 games, the Irish did not give up a goal in the first period. They own a 12-1 advantage in first-period goals this season. ** The Notre Dame loss also snapped a six-game road unbeaten streak (5-0-1) that goes back to Oct. 14 when the Irish lost 3-2 at Minnesota State in overtime.
** Michigan State’s second-period power-play goal was just the fifth power-play goal surrendered by Notre Dame this season in 66 chances (92.4% penalty kill rate). Over the last nine games, the Irish have given up just two power-play goals in 43 chances for a 95.3% success rate.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - FNotre Dame (9-2-1/4-1-1) 0 0 0 - 0Michigan State (6-3-1/4-3-1) 0 1 1 - 2
First Period: No Scoring.
Penalties: ND: 3 for 6 minutes; MSU: 2 for 4 minutes.
Second Period: MSU: Bryan Lerg 7 (Mike Ratchuk, Jim McKenzie), PPG, 3:39.
Penalties: ND: 1 for 2 minutes; MSU: 3 for 6 minutes.
Third Period: MSU: Tim Crowder 5 (Justin Abdelkader, Tim Kennedy), 1:18.
Penalties: ND: 2 for 4 minutes; MSU: 1 for 2 minutes.
Shots On Goal:
Notre Dame 3 - 12 - 10 - 25
Michigan State 5 - 7 - 5 - 17
ND - David Brown (58:36) 5 - 6 - 4 - 15
MSU - Jeff Lerg (59:32) 3 - 12 - 10 - 25
ND: 0 for 6
MSU: 1 for 6