Irish remain hot on the road with sweep of Spartans
Nate Moller | Monday, March 1, 2021
Irish hockey continued their success on the road with a series sweep of the Michigan State Spartans at Munn Arena in East Lansing this past weekend.
The Irish (12-12-2, 9-10-2 Big Ten) dominated both games in the series, winning both games against the last-place Spartans (7-15-2, 5-14-1 Big Ten) by a score of 2-0.
In Friday night’s game, Irish senior goalkeeper Dylan St. Cyr was outstanding his team. St. Cyr stopped all 27 shots that he faced and recorded his second shutout of the season and the fourth of his career.
Both teams skated to a scoreless first period on Friday night with relatively few chances for either team to score early on.
The Irish were able to get on the board a few minutes into the second period, however, off a goal from freshman Landon Slaggert, which was good for his sixth goal of the season. Senior defenseman Matt Hellickson and Slaggert had a two-on-one chance, and after Hellickson’s shot was saved, Slaggert cleaned up the rebound and gave the Irish the one-goal advantage.
It looked like the Spartans had tied the Irish up mid-way through the third period, but the Irish challenged the offside call and the goal was overturned.
The Irish were able to put the game away late with a goal from junior forward Alex Steeves with just under nine minutes remaining, for his 14th goal of the season. Matt Hellickson also recorded his second assist of the game on the play.
Head coach Jeff Jackson was pleased with how his team, particularly St. Cyr, played Friday night.
“I thought we played a patient game,” Jackson said. “They’re a tough team to play against and they are good defensively and don’t give you a lot, so you have to play a patient game. We waited for our chances and scored a couple timely goals and Dylan played well in goal and gave us a chance to win.”
The Irish secured the series sweep against the Spartans on Saturday afternoon behind another clean sheet from St. Cyr, who made 29 saves in Saturday’s contest.
Once again, Jackson was pleased with the calm demeanor of St. Cyr in front of the net.
“I thought [St. Cyr] played a quiet, calm game, and when we needed him he was there,” Jackson said. “I thought he did an outstanding job handling and moving the puck — he made the saves he needed to and made a few that were above the norm.”
Special teams proved to be the difference for the Irish on Saturday, with both of their goals coming on the power play and the Irish defense recording three penalty kills.
Jackson praised the improvement of his team’s special team play over the last month.
“Our special teams have gotten better over the last month, credit to our guys on the PK for doing an outstanding job and then the power play as well, scoring a couple critical goals,” he said.
The Irish were able to grab the lead early on Saturday afternoon after a five minute major penalty on the Spartans.
After a couple of good looks, senior forward Colin Theisen put the Irish on the board off of a one-timer shot.
Both teams were held scoreless in the second period, but the Irish recorded a five minute major penalty at the end of the period that carried over to the third period.
After killing the remainder of the power play, the Irish were able to double their lead a few minutes later off of a Slaggert goal, which was his second of the series.
With this series sweep this weekend, the Irish improve their road record to 9-2-1 on the season, a sharp contrast to their 3-10-1 record at home.
The Irish will hope to play better at home the next two weekends, however, with Penn State coming to Compton Family Ice Arena next weekend and then the Big Ten Tournament being played at Compton the following weekend.