Neil's Notebook: Spartans Settle for Four Points in LSSU Weekend
Jan. 22, 2012
By Neil Koepke, MSUSpartans.com staff writer
Six points was the goal. Four points was the achievement.
Michigan State let another victory slip through its fingers and had to settle for a 2-2 tie against Lake Superior State on Saturday and Munn Arena.
That was disappointment No. 1. Disappointment No. 2 came in the shootout as the Spartans got outscored 2-1 and came away with only one point instead of two.
It was MSU's first shootout loss of the season after two victories, but what was most frustrating for the Spartans was their inability to protect a 2-1 lead with 7:30 to go in the third period and score on nine minute of power-play time.
A great faceoff goal set up by perfect execution and positioning by center Brett Perlini and right wing Greg Wolfe in the left circle had most of the 4,862 fans thinking CCHA sweep - and a much-needed six-point weekend.
Instead, the Lakers made a good offensive play inside the MSU blue line by defenseman Zach Sternberg, who found some time and space along the right boards and his centering pass was deflected in by Fred Cassiani with 4:09 left in regulation.
The rest of the period was scoreless, as was the overtime. So for the third time in the last nine games, the Spartans competed in the shootout with the winner getting two points and the loser going home with one.
MSU's luck ran out in the shoot as freshman Dan Radke beat MSU goalie Will Yanakeff to give the Lakers a 2-1 victory in the shootout and move one point ahead of the Spartans.
With a victory in regulation, MSU would have been tied for Ferris State for fifth place. Instead, the Spartans, with 29 points, are in eighth place, but four only points behind second-place Miami and Western Michigan and three in back of fourth-place Michigan."
"Friday's game, we won and I didn't feel that great about how we played and tonight's game, it's a tie and we lose in the shootout and I feel way better about how we played,'' MSU coach Tom Anastos said. "I'm conflicted coming out of these games. You want a good result and play well, too.''
The Spartans (13-9-3 overall, 8-7-3-2 CCHA) wasted one of their most impressive goals of the season which gave them a 2-1 lead at 12:28 of the third period.
Perlini won a faceoff in the left circle and quickly slid the puck diagonally into the slot and Wolfe, lunging ahead, tapped it into the right corner. The goal came coming out of a timeout and drawn up by Coach Tom Anastos.
"Right before we went out (for the faceoff), he drew it up and it worked perfectly,'' said Wolfe, who now has eight goals.
Anastos loved the perfect execution and was fired up on the bench.
"It doesn't happen that often but they executed that play immaculately,'' he said. "It was well done. Even how we approached the faceoff circle and not give it away.
"I was excited when it went in because they made a nice play.''
It took a good break and great execution by LSSU to tie it, 2-2, with 4:09 left. Defenseman Zach Sternberg got some time and space along the right boards and fired the puck in front, where it deflected off the stick of Cassiani and hit MSU goalie Will Yanakeff and slid into the net.
"We got beat by a good play. Kevin Walrod went down to block a shot and their guy made a nice play to go around him, and he throws the puck across and at the net, and one of their guys deflect it and hits Palmisano and then went in.''
In round one of the shootout, Wolfe scored on LSSU goalie Kevin Kapalka and Kyle Jean responded by beating Yanakeff. The Spartans' Matt Berry, 2-0 in previous shootouts, missed to start round two, and so did the Lakers' Dominic Monardo.
MSU's Dean Chelios failed to get his shot off to start round three and Dan Radke won it for the Lakers by beating Yanakeff.
Once again, the Spartans' inability to score on their power play was a major factor. MSU had nine minutes of power-play time in the second period, including a five-minute major, and not only failed to score but could hardly keep the puck in the Laker zone for more than a few seconds.
The Spartans failed to convert on 11 minutes of power-play time, reallwhile LSSU had two power plays that didn't score but the Lakers had seven shots on goal.
"We not scoring (on the power play) but it's not like we're playing against a bad penalty-killing team,'' Anastos said. "I'd say where it affected us was our rhythm. We had four lines going and lots of tempo,'' Anastos said.
"We were on the power play for nine minutes, almost half the period. You use the same guys over and over and that tires them out. They're guys feed off that. They got a penalty shot and breakaway off it.''
Chris Ciotti gave LSSU a 1-0 lead at 6:42 of the first period but the Spartans answered, tying it on Dean Chelios' goal on rebout at 7:56.
"We were pushing for the victory. They caught a break and the puck happened to bounce in front and the guy is open he tossed it in,'' Wolfe said. "Anytime you have nine minutes of power-play time and don't get anything, it's a momentum killer.''
Yanakeff made 32 saves, including 19 in the third period and four in overtime. Kapalka stopped 37 shots, including 16 in the opening period and three in overtime.
"That's a good team over there. Their goaltender played great,'' MSU senior right wing Trevor Nill said. "It was a good game and we battled for 60 minutes and just didn't get (the win).''
PENALTY SHOT REJECTED: Spartan goalie Will Yanakeff kept his team in a 1-1 deadlock when he stopped the Lakers' Nick McParland on a penalty shot at 12:22 of the second period. LSSU was awarded the penalty shot when Spartan defenseman Torey Krug tripped Stephen Perfetto from behind while on a breakaway.
Perfetto fell and slid into the boards and was shaken up on the play. So the visitors can pick anyone else on the team to take the penalty shot and Coach Jim Roque with his team's top goal-scorer -- McParland.
PENALTY KILLERS FLOURISH: On Saturday, MSU went 0-4 on its power play after not scoring on a four-second power play in Friday's 4-2 Spartan victory. Meanwhile, the Lakers were 0-for-2 on the power play on Saturday and 0-1 on Friday.
LSSU's penalty killing now ranks No. 2 in the nation at 89.6 per cent, while MSU's is third at 89.4.
The Spartans have not scored on the power play in their last seven games, going 0-for-26. Their last power-play goal was against Michigan Tech - by Greg Wolfe -- in a 3-1 victory in the Great Lakes Invitational semifinals on Dec. 29.
STREAK CONTINUES: LSSU has not won at Munn Arena in its last 21 games. The Lakers are 0-17-4 since last beating the Spartans on the road in a 3-0 win on Dec. 9, 1995.
COMING UP: After going 2-2-2 in six consecutive home games, the Spartans are on the road for the next four games. MSU plays a two-game series at fifth-place Ferris State next Friday and Saturday and visits first-place Ohio State on Feb. 3-4. The Spartans' next home game is Feb. 10 against Michigan.