Jan. 13, 2012
East Lansing, Mich. - Northern Michigan victimized the Spartans with goals in the final minute of each period, as the teams skated to a 5-5 tie on Friday night in East Lansing. Michigan State got the extra point in the shootout thanks to a pair of saves by Drew Palmisano and a goal by Matt Berry.
"I really have to go back and watch this game tape, because I have no idea how a lot of those goals went in," said MSU coach Tom Anastos. "There were a ton of tips and deflections. The scoring in the first period was crazy.
"I thought we had a pretty good third period, but everyone knows - those goals in the final minute of a period are backbreakers. Tonight, they were really big backbreakers for us. But, we got some big stops from Palmisano again in the shootout, and got that extra point in the standings. There are still a lot of things we need to tighten up."
Northern Michigan got goals with 34, 13, and 26 seconds remaining, respectively, in each period. Both teams squandered two-goal leads in the contest, and all but the final goal - scored with an extra attacker - came at even strength.
The visitors took a lead just 1:32 into the game, and had a 2-0 lead by the eleven-minute mark thanks to a pair of deflections off of point shots. The first goal came as Brian Nugent got a piece of a Ryan Kesti shot. At 10:25, alternate captain Justin Florek tipped a shot from the right point by Scott Macaulay past Palmisano to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Four straight goals by the home team brought the fans to a fever pitch. Chris Forfar started the barrage at 11:16, as he was set up by freshman Brett Darnell. The next two Spartan tallies came just over 30 seconds apart. Lee Reimer had the puck beneath the goal line and threw it onto the stick of a crashing Mike Merrifield, who netted his team-best ninth goal of the season at 13:42 to knot the score. At 14:18, MSU took its first lead of the night. Jake Chelios had a grade-A chance saved by Ellingson, and the rebound trickled ont into the slot. Anthony Hayes crashed the net, and pushed the puck through the defender in front and Ellingson's five-hole for his second marker of the season.
MSU's largest lead of the period was the generated from a three-on-one chance. Kevin Walrod carried it up the right side and shot it himself, sniping the puck beneath the glove-hand of Ellingson.
The period's scoring went nearly to the final buzzer, as Northern Michigan pulled within a goal before heading to the locker room . Matt Thurber was the goal scorer for the Wildcats, getting his sixth of the season by getting it past Palmisano at the left post.
In the second period, there were a total of five penalties that gave each team chances on the man advantage. Tim Buttery extended the Spartans lead at 6:25 - he took a feed from Kevin Walrod from behind the net, and his wrister from the right hash mark found its mark. That goal chased Ellingson, who was replaced by Jared Coreau. The final-minute magic clicked for Northern at 19:46, as Scott Macaulay shot though traffic from the right half-wall for his second goal of the season.
The teams were scoreless through most of the third period, until the final-second score by Tyler Gron. The Spartans were unable to clear the zone, as the Wildcats kept the puck in by inches at the right wall. The dump back into the zone caromed off the official's skate along the wall, going right onto the stick of Gron, and the senior - who has terrorized the Spartans with timely goals over his career - got the game-tying tally.
The teams went through the five minute overtime period without a score, sending the teams to the shootout and a 5-5 onto the official record of the game. Neither first shooter got on the board - Dean Chelios' offering was saved by Coreau at the left post, and Andrew Chernichewan rang the crossbar. Berry was MSU's second shooter, and his deke-to-the-backhand move beat Coreau stick-side. Palmisano finished off the shootout with saves on Gron and Seckel, ensuring the shootout victory. Palmisano has recorded five saves in six shootout shots against this season.
The teams face off for the final time in the regular season tomorrow at Munn Ice Arena at 7 pm. Saturday's game will air live on FS Detroit.