Michigan State recovers split in series against second-ranked Notre Dame
EAST LANCING, Mich. -- Michigan State earned a convincing 4-1 victory against No. 2 Notre Dame in front of a capacity crowd of 6,714 fans at Munn Ice Arena on Saturday. The Spartans' win came after a 1-0 loss against the Irish on Friday.
MSU scored once in the first period, twice in the second and got an insurance goal into an empty net in the waning minutes of the game to improve to 6-13-2 on the season. The 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 in CCHA contests.
"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," head coach Tom Anastos said. "I thought that [Saturday] and [Friday] 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. [Saturday] 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, when Tanner Sorenson carried the puck over the blue line and wristed it on net, beating Summerhays over his glove hand for his sixth marker of the season. 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 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.
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.
The third period showcased a lot of special teams on both sides - the Spartans were whistled for all four of their penalties in the game 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.
Goalkeeper Jake Hildebrand recorded 33 saves for Michigan State.