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College Hockey:
Spartans Hold Off Late Charge, Win, 3-2, Over Irish

— Two third-period goals by Michigan State’s Tim Crowder and Tim Kennedy proved to be the difference
Friday night as 14th-ranked Michigan State held off a late Notre Dame charge to take a 3-2 win in front of a sellout crowd of 2,763 at the Joyce Center.

The Irish got third-period goals from Josh Sciba and Evan Rankin – Rankin’s coming with 10 seconds left and the goaltender pulled for a sixth attacker – but it wasn’t enough as Notre Dame fell
in its first home game since Jan. 14.

The loss dropped the Irish to 9-15-3 overall and 7-11-3 in the CCHA. Michigan State improves to 15-10-7 with the victory and 9-7-6 in league play, good for 24 points and sole possession of
second place in the conference. Notre Dame and the Spartans will meet again on Saturday night at Munn Arena in East Lansing, Mich., with game time set for 7:35 p.m.

The Spartans poured it on the Irish in the first two periods, scoring just a first-period power-play goal by Justin Abdelkader while outshooting Notre Dame by a 26-12 margin. Irish goaltender
David Brown kept Notre Dame in the game until it found some offense in the final stanza.

“David (Brown) did a good job early keeping us in the game,” said Irish head coach Jeff Jackson.

“Michigan State’s kept getting shots because we kept turning the puck over. You don’t get offense if you are chasing the puck and we did a lot of chasing early in the game. We really need to generate more offense in front of him. We just didn’t execute very well tonight.”

Abdelkader scored his power-play goal at 13:37 of the opening period when he whipped a rebound of a Kennedy shot past Brown from between the hash marks. The goal was his eighth of the season.

The score would stay that way until the opening minute of the third period when the Irish would tie the score on their third power-play chance of the season of the night. Senior left wing Mike Walsh moved the puck from behind the Michigan State goal to Mark Van Guilder who fed Josh Sciba at the center point. Sciba one-timed a wrist shot that found it’s way through a maze of players in front and went off goaltender Dominic Vicari’s stick and into the goal just 50 seconds into the period. Sciba’s goal was his team leading 13th of the year and eighth via the power play.

Just over four minutes later at 4:51, the Spartans retook the lead with their second power-play tally of the game. Crowder’s shot from the left-wing circle hit the left post and bounced off Brown into the goal. David Booth and Abdelkader assisted on the goal, Crowder’s 10th of the season.

“That goal was frustrating. We couldn’t get a break. The shot came through a screen and hit the post and then went off me and over the line,” said Brown.

Michigan State would build the lead to 3-1 three minutes later when Kennedy picked up his third goal of the season at 7:51. His shot found it’s way through Brown’s arm and body and also barely made it over the line.

“I don’t think either of those goals made it to the back of the net,” said Brown.

The Irish didn’t stop though and continued to battle. Jackson pulled Brown with 1:17 left in the game and the Irish capitalized, but just a little too late. Rankin, who had several scoring opportunities in the game, finally got one past Vicari when he banked a shot in off the goaltender.

“It was late in the game and I just threw it at the net. We had three guys in there and I just hoped someone would have a shot, but it went in,” said the sophomore right wing.

“Coach called a timeout and set up a play, but we never got off the shot before time ran out,” added Rankin.

For the game, Michigan State finished with 33 shots on goal to Notre Dame’s 23. Brown finished with 30 saves and Vicari made 21 stops on the night.

The two teams left immediately following the game for East Lansing, Mich., where the Irish will look to find the winning formula on Saturday.

“It’s a short turnaround,” said Brown.

“We have to be upbeat and positive and fix the things that went wrong and give a strong effort and find a way to win tomorrow night.”

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