Jan. 13, 2013
East Lansing, Mich. - Michigan State's solid effort was rewarded with a convincing 4-1 victory over No. 2 Notre Dame in front of a capacity crowd of 6,714 fans at Munn Ice Arena on Saturday night. Coming off a strong Friday game which saw the team go toe-to-toe with the Irish and suffer a 1-0 loss, MSU stuck to its game plan, getting a considerable scoreless streak off its back and recording its best win of the season thus far.
MSU scored once in the first period, twice in the second, and got an insurance tally into an empty net in the waning minutes of the game to improve to 6-13-2 on the season. The second-ranked Irish lost just their second CCHA game of the season, and fell to 15-6-0 overall and 11-2 in conference play. The Spartans are 5-10-1-0 in CCHA contests.
MSU is 0-6-1 In the first game of a two-game set this season, but has rebounded for a game two win in four of those seven series.
"It was a good effort from our guys. It was nice to see the puck go in early; it was nice to see the puck go in late," said head coach Tom Anastos to open his post-game press conference. "I thought that tonight and last night combined was the best six periods of hockey we've played this year. It can be a challenge when you are playing hard and executing, and not getting positive results. Tonight was nice to see our players be consistent, execute, and come away with the reward , with a win."
The Spartans jumped on the board 1:48 into the game, shrugging the weight of back-to-back shutouts against off their shoulders. Tanner Sorenson carried the puck over the blue line and wristed it on net, and beat Summerhays over his glove hand for his sixth marker of the season. It snapped a streak of 166:07 of scoreless hockey for the Spartans, who last scored a goal in the first period against Michigan in the Great Lakes Invitational third-place game on Dec. 30. Kevin Walrod and Michael Ferrantino were credited with the assists on the marker.
The Spartans missed out on a good chance at a second goal two minutes into the second period, as Kevin Walrod fed Sorenson in front, but the puck trickled out to the left side out of the crease. At 3:58, Anders Lee got the Irish on the board, coming off the right wall into the circle and wristing the puck netward, catching the inside of the crossbar for his 12th goal of the season.
MSU answered back just over 90 seconds later to reclaim its lead. Off a Matt DeBlouw faceoff win, the puck was sent back to the left point for RJ Boyd. Boyd's shot found its mark through traffic in front, the first goal for Boyd in a Spartan uniform and a 2-1 lead for the Spartans.
A five-on-three opportunity gave the Spartans a golden opportunity midway through the frame. MSU looked like it had added on a third goal at 9:57 as both Sorenson and Greg Wolfe poked at a loose puck at the left post, and the call on the ice was a goal - but after a lengthy review, the call was reversed.
Despite the wave-off on the goal, the Spartans still had nearly a minute of five-on-three remaining, and utilized all but a second of it to manufacture their third goal of the night. With just one tick remaining in the first Irish penalty, Brent Darnell converted a pass from Sorenson on the doorstep on the left side, his sixth goal of the season - and third against the Irish. That allowed the Spartans a two-goal cushion entering the third period.
That third period showcased a lot of special teams on both sides - the Spartans were whistled for all four of their penalties in the game in that final frame, and had a pair of power-play chances as well. The Irish rallied for 18 shots in the period, which, one by one, were turned away by Hildebrand and the Spartan defense.
Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson pulled Summerhays in favor of an extra skater with 2:30 remaining in regulation, at a point which the Irish had nearly 30 seconds of power play remaining. The Spartans did a nice job of limiting Notre Dame's opportunities, and forced the Irish goalie back to the crease. At 18:21, DeBlouw sent a slow knuckler down the length of the ice, and it just caught the bottom right corner of the net for DeBlouw's fifth of the season, and the icing on a hard-fought victory for the Spartans.
Hildebrand recorded 33 saves, and on the season, made 101 of 106 saves in three starts against Notre Dame. On the weekend, he made 65 of 67 stops.
The Spartans have their first three-game homestand of the season come to a conclusion when they host Ferris State next Friday in the front end of a home-and-home series with the Bulldogs. Gametime is 7 p.m.