EAST LANSING — No. 8 Notre Dame topped the Michigan State hockey team, 3-1, in the Spartans’ Big Ten opener on Friday night at Munn Ice Arena. Trailing 2-0 midway through the third period, Patrick Khodorenkoscored to cut the Spartan deficit in half, but MSU (4-5, 0-1 B1G) couldn’t get the equalizer and Notre Dame sealed the game with an empty-net goal in the final seconds.
“It was a pretty good battle,” MSU head coach Danton Cole said. “I thought, compared to maybe some of our last few games, I thought our guys battled really hard and kind of stuck with it and didn’t get away from it. We had a chance late, battling with a power play and hit the crossbar.
“They didn’t cheat us on effort tonight and effort was pretty darn good. We’ll just have to be a little better tomorrow.”
Michigan State outshot Notre Dame (6-4-1, 3-2 B1G) in all three periods and by a 28-21 margin for the game.
Less than a minute after the Spartans extinguished the fourth Notre Dame power play of the night near the midway point of the third period, Khodorenko capped a stretch of pressure in the Irish zone with a goal to make the score 2-1.
A persistent forecheck by the Spartans and then steal by Taro Hirose kept the puck in the UND zone. After Hirose’s theft, Mitchell Lewandowski threw a backhand pass from the left boards cross ice to Dennis Cesana. Cesana didn’t get a clean handle on the puck, but got enough of it to Khodorenko, who snapped it upstairs from the slot for his team-leading sixth goal of the season with 10:15 to play.
A penalty to Notre Dame with 2:15 to play gave the Spartans another quality chance to tie the game and they nearly did so, but Khodorenko’s one-timer from near the left circle clanked off the crossbar with just under two minutes to play.
That was as close as the Spartans would get and Notre Dame’s Graham Slaggert put the game away with an empty net goal with four seconds remaining.
Drew DeRidder got the start in net for the Spartans and made 18 stops. UND’s Cale Morris made 27 saves.
Notre Dame that got the only goal of the opening period, scoring on a rebound off a deflection at the 2:13 mark. Bobby Nardella let a wrister go from the left circle that caromed off Joe Wegwerth in the low slot and then off DeRidder. The puck bounced back to Wegwerth and he put it in the net.
Notre Dame pushed its lead to 2-0 at the 12:07 mark of the second when Cam Burke scored on a breakaway. Burke blocked a shot at his own blue line and raced in to score unassisted.
Both teams went goalless on the power play with Notre Dame going 0-for-4 and MSU 0-for-3.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday at Munn at 7:30 p.m.
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