The Spartans finally got one monkey off their back this weekend, and for the next two weeks they will look to work towards getting another one off their backs. Michigan State fought back tonight from two different one goal deficits to beat the Irish for the first time since 2008 and in South Bend for the first time since 2006. MSU went 0-7-4 over the last 11 meetings with Notre Dame.
This one didn't start out any different as Notre Dame tallied a power play goal just 4:37 into the opening period to give ND a 1-0 lead. Michigan State battled through it though eventually netting a goal with 2:58 to go in the period as Walrod scored his ninth goal of the season. The second period saw both teams tally short handed goals. Notre Dame scored the first one 10:57 into the period as T.J. Tynan netted his 13th goal of the season. Then with 2:59 to go in the period, Chris Forfar tied the game up with a shorthanded tally of his own. The Spartans weren't done yet as Captain Torey Krug scored his 11th goal of the season with 42 seconds to go in the period. That goal proved to be huge on multiple levels as it tied Krug with Tynan for the CCHA scoring title.
Shots through the second period were 23-12 in favor of Notre Dame. In fact, Michigan State only mustered three shots on goal in the second period, but two found the back of the net.
In the final period Dean Chelios iced the game 9:13 into the final frame with his eighth goal of the season. Michigan State out-shot the Irish 7-6 in the final frame, though the Irish held the 29-19 edge for the game. Yanakeff made 27 saves in the win.
The victory gave Michigan State a nice little boost in the CCHA standings, but it wasn't enough to move out of the fifth seed as Miami defeated Ohio State 5-1 tonight, and Western Michigan shutout Ferris State 3-0. Northern swept LSSU this weekend with a 5-3 win tonight, and Michigan broke through in Bowling Green with three third period goals to win 3-0.
As a result, the CCHA playoffs will look like this:
First Round Match-Ups (March 2nd - 4th):
#11 Bowling Green (22 pts) at #6 Northern Michigan (42 pts)
#10 Alaska (30 pts) at #7 LSSU (41 pts)
#9 Ohio State (39 pts) at #8 Notre Dame (39 pts)
How about Ohio State? They were first in the CCHA at the start of 2012, but they finished ninth.
CCHA Quarterfinals (March 9th - 11th):
#5 Michigan State (47 pts) at #4 Miami (48 pts)
Top Seed of First Round Winners at #3 Western Michigan (50 pts)
Second Best Seed of First Round Winners at #2 Michigan (50 pts)
Worst Seed of First Round Winners at #1 Ferris State (54 pts)
Ferris State #1 overall is much of a surprise as Michigan State in the top five. Finishing 5th might be a little bit of a disappointment for MSU fans, but the win tonight was still big for the NCAA picture. It still stands to reason that MSU might have to reach Joe Louis to solidify a NCAA bid, as Michigan State still sits in 12th in the PairWise.
Also, I sort of skimmed over it, but I shouldn't. Congratulations are in order to junior Captain & All-America Candidate Torey Krug who shared the CCHA scoring title. He becomes the first d-man in the CCHA to do this since the 1986-1987 season when WMU's Wayne Gagne did it.
Let the Second Season Begin
It's a new season now, and the team needs to focus on getting that other monkey of their back. Michigan State hasn't been to Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA tournament since 2007. Michigan State lost to Northern in 2008 in three games in the quarterfinals. In 2009, Northern swept Michigan State in the CCHA first round. In 2010, Michigan State finished second in the CCHA only to see a red hot Michigan team come into Munn and upset the Spartans in two games in the CCHA quarters. In 2011, Michigan State lost a pair of overtime games in the CCHA first round in Alaska. So it's been awhile.
Check back here throughout the next couple weeks as we prepare for the upcoming series against Miami(NTM). We will also take a look at the NCAA picture once again tomorrow, as well as start to break down some of the other CCHA playoff series.