Irish come up short against Minnesota State, losing trip to Frozen Four
Nate Moller | Saturday, March 26, 2022
The 2021-22 season came to an end for the Irish on Saturday evening in Albany as the Irish fell 1-0 to Minnesota State in a physical, fast-paced game.
The Mavericks looked like the better team for most of the night, but the Irish competed well too, generating plenty of scoring opportunities.
Saturday night’s win was the 17th consecutive victory for the Mavericks, who have been ranked number one for much of the season.
The Irish got a power play early on after junior right winger Trevor Janicke went down hard. They had a couple of looks on goal. But Mavericks goalie Dryden McKay made a couple of big saves to keep the game scoreless.
The Mavericks pressed the Irish hard throughout the first ten minutes, and the Irish struggled to maintain possession and get good looks in the early part of the game.
Both teams had a couple of chances near the end of the first period. The Mavericks had one of the best chances of the game with just over four minutes to play, but the shot went just wide. The Irish then took the puck down the ice moments later and nearly scored, forcing McKay to make a save.
The Irish had arguably their best look of the first period with just a minute left in the game with sophomore forward Landon Slaggert sending the puck across the ice to find senior center Graham Slaggert. Graham put the shot on net, but McKay made another save to deny the Irish. Moments later, Jake Pivonka ended up with a one-on-one chance with McKay, but McKay stood strong yet again.
When the Mavericks got the puck back, they put pressure on the Irish immediately, forcing graduate student goaltender Matthew Galajda to make a glove save with 30 seconds left in the period. The Mavericks then broke through moments later after Galajda made a save and the puck rebounded right to Nathan Smith, who easily slipped it in the back of the net to give the Mavericks a 1-0 lead after the first period.
The Irish were given a power play early in the second period after Wyatt Aamodt was called for hooking on junior left winger Solag Bakich. The Mavericks won the faceoff, though, and they had a great shorthanded two-on-one chance, forcing Galajda to make a difficult glove save. Junior left winger Jesse Lansdell had a great look for the Irish in front of the net at the end of the power play, but McKay stood strong again and covered the puck to deny the Irish again.
The Mavericks controlled the puck during the middle part of the second period and threatened to extend their lead. The speed and physicality of the Mavericks proved difficult for the Irish to handle. Galajda had to make multiple pad saves to keep the Irish within a goal.
Ryan Sandelin then had a clean look on goal with just over seven minutes to play in the period. But Galajda stepped up yet again to make a huge save, coming out from the net and smothering the puck.
The Mavericks continued to keep the pressure on the Irish, forcing Galajda to make another crucial pad save. Galajda was out of position after the save, and there was a scramble for the puck in front of the net. Still, the Mavericks were unable to score yet again.
With just over four minutes to play, sophomore defenseman Zach Plucinski was called for interference, giving the Mavericks their first power play of the game. Nathan Smith had the best chance of the power play with a long distance shot, but Galajda made the stop and saved the rebound attempt. The Irish defense then held strong over the remaining minute of the power play to kill off the penalty.
Moments after getting back to full strength, the Irish got a power play of their own because of an interference penalty on Josh Groll. The Irish failed to generate good looks on the power play, and the Mavericks took a 1-0 lead into the third period.
The Irish had 22 seconds remaining on the power play to begin the period, but the Mavericks killed the penalty to retain their one-goal lead.
Groll nearly gave the Mavericks a two-goal lead just over three minutes into the period. But Galajda made the stop and covered the puck in front of the net. Moments later, the Mavericks had multiple looks in front of the net, narrowly missing the goal.
After the string of Mavericks’ chances, the Irish began to put pressure on the Mavericks, controlling the puck in the Mavericks’ zone and generating some good looks on goal, threatening to tie up the game.
The game swung back in Minnesota State’s favor in the middle part of the period. Galajda had to make some huge saves just to keep the Irish within striking distance. The Irish offense struggled to generate opportunities until about six and a half minutes left when there was a scramble in front of the net, with the puck hitting the post. In the ensuing scramble, McKay was out of position, and the Irish desperately tried to get a shot on goal. Despite this attempt, Notre Dame was unable to put the puck in the back of the net.
The Irish emptied the net with 2:14 to play, and they had a couple of chances. But McKay held strong in net, and the Mavericks held on to win 1-0 and advance to their second consecutive Frozen Four. McKay finished the night with 23 saves.
Minnesota State will play the winner of Minnesota and Western Michigan in Boston on April 7th.