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Darnell Scores Twice in 3-2 Loss to No. 4/5 Irish

Brent Darnell

Dec. 7, 2012

Final Stats

WATCH: Hockey Highlights vs. Notre Dame

South Bend, Ind. - Despite a pair of goals from sophomore Brent Darnell and another impressive performance from freshman goalie Jake Hildebrand (36 saves), the Spartans fell on the road at No. 4/ 5 Notre Dame, 3-2, on Friday night. The Irish scored twice on the power play to send MSU to its fourth straight loss (and kept them winless in five consecutive games), and improved to 12-5-0 on the season. MSU is now 4-9-2.

The Irish took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. The Spartans successfully killed off a hooking penalty against John Draeger, but the Irish jumped onto the board just 30 seconds later, at 10:50. From the left wall, Austin Wuthrich threw it into the slot for Nick Larson, who's shot from the right hashmark went off the goalpost and into the back of the net.

The Spartans tied the game 2:43 into the second period, as Darnell scored his fourth goal of the season, with Matt Berry getting credit for the assist. It was Darnell's first goal since the game against Michigan on Nov. 10.

MSU worked hard to gain momentum, and looked to take advantage of a major penalty whistled against Anders Lee at 6:23 for hitting from behind. However, with 2:08 remaining in the major, Jake Chelios was sent off on a cross-checking call, followed soon thereafter by Matt Grassi for the same infraction. The pair of penalties turned an extended Spartan advantage into a four-on-three power play for the Irish, which was a huge momentum swing in favor of the home team.

With that man advantage, TJ Tynan sent the back-door pass to Mario Lucia on the right side, and Lucia's quick stick potted his fifth goal of the season.

"That was probably the turning point of the game - all the positive momentum we built up we lost there with those back -to-back penalties," admitted head coach Tom Anastos.

Tynan converted for the Irish again on the power play at 17:48, giving the home team a 3-1 lead at the second intermission. With David Bondra in the box on a boarding call, it was Lucia's turn for the slick pass, sending it through the crease for Tynan at the left post. Tynan one-timed it for the second PPG of the night for the home team, and a 3-1 lead.

Darnell pulled the Spartans back within a goal at 5:07 of the final frame, taking a nice backhanded pass from Kevin Walrod. He sent a rising shot from the top of the slot which found its target for the winger's second goal of the night.

As the time ticked away, the Spartans were looking for a strong final push in search of an equalizer. However, as Travis Walsh and Nick Larson got tangled up and went into the boards with 2:02 remaining in regulation, Walsh was whistled for boarding, which essentially killed MSU's chance to get Hildebrand to the bench in favor of an extra skater.

The freshman had yet another strong outing between the pipes, making 36 saves, his second-highest total of the season. It was the first start this season in which Hildebrand allowed more than two goals. t

"I thought that Jake [Hildebrand] had another really strong performance for us tonight," said Anastos. "I'm not sure that we gave him any chance on the two power-play goals, and even that first one, it went off the post and I'm not sure what else he could have done there. "

The two teams face off again on Saturday evening in a game that will air live on Comcast. Puck drop is 7 p.m.

Notes:MSU scored two goals, its first multiple-goal game since Nov. 16 at Miami ...MSU's streak of 20 consecutive successful penalty kills was snapped with Mario Lucia's extra-man tally in the second period ... Darnell had his first goal since the Nov. 10 game vs. Michigan ... Darnell also recorded his second career multiple-goal game. His first was last February against Alaska.



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