Compton Family Ice Arena
South Bend, Indiana
The Michigan State Spartans came into Notre Dame tonight with a great shot at second place in the CCHA final standings if they could take care of the Irish this weekend.Â Instead they leave here after game one of a two game tilt with a loss and the potential of fifth place.
The Spartans came out this evening looking lethargic and almost as if they expected the Irish who were seventh in the conference to roll over.Â It wasnâ€™t the entire team that looked that way, but it was the majority.Â Unfortunately no one told the Irish they were supposed to wilt and they didnâ€™t.
In what has been an amazing season for the Spartans this could have been the low point.Â Playing for so much, I am typing this stunned at how they played tonight.Â Not stunned by a loss, but stunned at how the Spartans played.Â This was not the hockey played this year.
MSU head coach Tom Anastos said of the his teams play, â€œI donâ€™t think we had everyone going tonight.Â We didnâ€™t do the things we talked about all week long.Â We arenâ€™t good enough as a team to play that way and win on the road.â€
Junior LW Kevin Walrod said that the team, â€œFrom the start we didnâ€™t have it.â€Â
Will Yanakeff got the start in goal and up until the 10:06 mark of the third period he looked good.Â At the 10:06 mark of the third he made bad play in combination with senior Tom Buttery on the puck, it bounced off the sideboard where a Notre Dame player picked it up passed and the Irish scored.Â Making it 2-0 Irish and essentially taking his team out of the game.
A frustrated Anastos said of the mistake, â€œWe mishandled the puck in our own zone.â€
Captain Torey Krug knows that his team has so much to play for on Saturday.Â He told me what he was going to say to his teammates at the hotel tonight to get them ready for tomorrow night.Â He said, â€œFirst and foremost from an entire team perspective we have to play for 60 minutes.Â They outworked us.â€
For Krug that last statement hurt.Â The young man plays hard every game and leaves it all on the ice.
If you go back as far as the 2007-2008 season the Irish are 8-0-3 against the Spartans.Â The Spartans have so much to play for with tomorrows contest being the last regular season game of the year.
The Spartans for sure have a first round by in the CCHA.Â They could finish as high as third or as low as fifth.Â What they are playing for on Saturday night is a shot of hosting a second round CCHA playoff series at Munn Ice Arena on the weekend of March 9-11, 2012.
Even with the loss the Spartans did back in to a first round bye.Â Anastos wasnâ€™t buying it, â€œThatâ€™s backing in and I want to drive.â€
Still unhappy with his teams play, Anastos said just as he turned to leave that on Saturday, â€œWill get the same result if we do the same tomorrow night.â€Â I agree.
Now is not the time for the Spartans to hold their heads low.Â This was not a good performance, but this has been an amazing year.Â Torey Krug told me after the Spartans got swept in Big Rapids earlier this year, â€œWe still have so many points to play for, we WONâ€™T quit now.â€Â He was right then and with only three points available for the remainder of this regular season, letâ€™s hope the Spartans get the message back at the hotel.