Michigan State freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand stopped 33-of-34 Notre Dame shots, including 18 in the third period to hand the Irish a 4-1 loss in front of a sellout crowd of 6,716 at Munn Arena on Saturday night.
The Spartans got goals from Tanner Sorenson, R.J. Boyd, Brent Darnell and Matt DeBlouw in snapping a three-game losing streak. Junior captain Anders Lee had the lone Notre Dame goal in the loss.
The loss snapped a four-game unbeaten streak (2-0-2) for the Irish at Munn Arena. Notre Dame had not lost in East Lansing since Jan. 11, 2008 and since the 2007-08 season were 9-1-1 against Michigan State.
With the defeat, the #3/#2 Irish fall to 15-6-0 overall and saw their school-record, nine-game CCHA win streak snapped as they go to 11-2-0 in the conference, good for 33 points and first place in the standings, one point ahead of second-place Miami as the RedHawks had a shootout win on Saturday and now have 32 points. Notre Dame has three games in hand on Miami. Michigan State is now 6-13-3 overall and 5-10-1-0 in conference play.
Notre Dame out shot Michigan State, 34-25, in the game but could not solve the Spartans' freshman puck stopper. Steven Summerhays finished the night with 21 saves in the Irish goal.
Michigan State scored the only goal of the first period, scoring just 1:48 into the game as Sorenson beat Summerhays with a wrist shot from the high slot. Kevin Walrod had the centering feed and Sorenson used a pair of Irish defenseman as a screen as he whipped the shot past the Notre Dame goaltender over his glove hand for his sixth of the season.
The Irish evened the score at 1-1 at the 3:58 of the second period with Lee picking up his 12th goal of the season. The junior center picked up a loose puck at the right boards in the Michigan State zone, turned and drilled a wrist shot from a bad angle over Hildebrand's glove and under the cross bar.
The Spartans took the lead for keeps at 6:15 of the second period as Boyd scored his first collegiate goal to make it 2-1. Center Matt DeBlouw moved the puck off the left boards to Boyd at the center point where he fired a wrist shot through a maze of skates and sticks through Summerhays' pads to put Michigan State ahead.
The Irish were whistled for a pair of penalties at 8:54 and 9:11 to give the Spartans a 5-on-3 for 1:43 and looked like they scored at the 9:57 mark off a scramble in front as Greg Wolfe tried to jam a puck past Summerhays. The officials reviewed the play and waved off the goal.
The Spartans got it back though, with just one second left on the 5-on-3, as Darnell scored at 10:53, banging the rebound of a Sorenson shot from the left side past Summerhays to make it 3-1. The goal was Darnell's sixth of the season.
The score would remain that way despite the Irish firing 18 shots on goal and having four power plays in the third period with each one featuring big saves from Hildebrand. For the night, Notre Dame was 0-for-4 on the power play while Michigan State was 1-for-6.
The Spartans sealed the victory at 18:21 with Summerhays pulled in favor of a sixth attacker. With a face off to the right of Hildebrand, the puck came loose to DeBlouw who skated two strides with it before firing it down the ice at the empty net. The shot rolled on its side and hit the right post, deflecting into the goal for DeBlouw's fifth goal of the season and the final score of 4-1.
Despite the loss, the Irish took the season series from Michigan State, winning three games to one for the regular season.
Notre Dame will close out its four road games in eight nights swing at 7:05 p.m., on Tuesday, Jan. 15 when the Irish travel to Bowling Green to face the Falcons at BGSU Ice Arena. The two teams met at Bowling Green on Dec. 15 with Notre Dame taking a 4-1 win.
GAME SUMMARY 1 2 3 - F
#3/#2 Notre Dame (15-6-0/11-2-0-0) 0 1 0 - 1
Michigan State (6-13-3/5-10-1-0) 1 2 1 - 4
First Period: MSU: Tanner Sorenson 6 (Kevin Walrod, Michael Ferrantino), 1:48.
Penalties: ND: 1 for 2 minutes; MSU: 0 for 0 minutes.
Second Period: ND: Anders Lee 12 (unassisted), 3:58; MSU: R.J. Boyd 1 (Matt DeBlouw), 6:15; MSU: Brent Darnell 6 (Sorenson, Greg Wolfe), PPG, 10:53.
Penalties: ND: 3 for 6 minutes; MSU: 2 for 4 minutes.
Third Period: MSU: DeBlouw 5 (unassisted), 18:21.
Penalties: ND: 2 for 4 minutes; MSU: 5 for 10 minutes.