Feb. 3, 2007
Omaha, Neb. - Michigan State three times battled back from one-goal deficits to forge a 3-3 tie on the road at Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday evening. The Spartans got goals from Bryan Lerg, Tim Kennedy, and the equalizer from Tyler Howells in the deadlock, which extended MSU's unbeaten streak to seven games. Michigan State is now 17-8-2 on the year, 13-6-2 CCHA.
The Mavericks came out much more aggressive in the opening frame than they had been in the series opener on Friday, and buzzed in the MSU zone, creating scoring chances. The Spartans, however, had trouble getting pucks to the net, thanks in no small part to three minor penalties assessed in the period. The first led to a UNO goal, as leading scorer Scott Parse moved up the left side and cut across the top of the crease unmolested and poked the puck five-hole on Jeff Lerg. It was the 20th goal and 45th point of the season for the reigning CCHA Player of the Year, and gave the Mavericks their first lead in the series.
The Spartans killed off two other man-down situations, and got on the board themselves with just 1:32 remaining in the frame while skating on the power play. Still without a shot on net, Michigan State's second shift on the man advantage saw Tim Kennedy carry the puck into the offensive zone up the right wall; the always-dangerous sophomore saw multiple defenders collapse on him, but managed to push the puck netward for centerman Chris Mueller. Mueller got off a clean shot - the Spartans' first of the night - on netminder Jeramie Dupont; the goalie saved it, but couldn't control the rebound. An opportunistic Kennedy pounced on the rebound and redirected it into the back of the net for his 13th goal of the season and a tie ballgame going into the intermission.
Jeff Lerg mishandled z Parse shot, leading to a goal for the homestanding Mavericks at the 2:37 mark of the second frame. Parse beat a Spartan blueliner off the half-wall and again went in uncontested on the goalie. Parse put a soft shot glove-side, and Lerg made the stop, but the puck trickled from his glove and barely over the goal-line. An official review followed, but the goal stood and Parse had his second of the night - and the Mavericks a 2-1 lead.
Chris Mueller had a breakaway while the Spartans were skating on the power play, but his offering at the 15:00 mark was turned away by Dupont with his left leg pad. The Spartan offense kept coming in waves, however, controlling the momentum through the first half of the period - eventually leading to the visitors getting the goal back on a score at the 7:33 mark. Nick Sucharski had two shots right in front of Dupont, but the freshman had trouble controlling the rebound, leaving the puck bouncing in the low slot. Bryan Lerg pounced on it and roofed it over the glove hand of the goalie for his third goal of the weekend.
The home team took its third lead of the night at the 5:51 mark while skating on the power play. Moments after Bryan Lerg and Mueller had a near 2-on-1 break shorthanded, the Mavs carried the puck back into their offensive zone. A heavily marked Alex Nikiforuk bobbled the puck in front, but regained control and backhanded it past the glove hand of Jeff Lerg for the home team 3-2 lead.
Michigan State had a power play chance of its own shortly thereafter, but the Maverick kill was up to the task to preserve its one-goal lead. UNO was aggressive and pesky throughout the final frame, but the Spartans - who engineered a pair of third-period comebacks in their recent hot streak - refused to roll over and got the equalizing tally at the 15:55 mark. Mueller won the faceoff deep in the zone back to Tyler Howells, who had a good look, but his shot was blocked by a defenseman in front. MSU kept the puck low in the zone, which helped generate a great chance for Mueller in front, which was saved by Dupont. Howells corralled the loose puck of the rebound in the low slot and skated backwards into the right circle; the senior then roofed the puck over Dupont's glove-hand for the game-tying tally.
Michigan State maintained momentum over the balance of the period and had the puck in its offensive end for the final minute of regulation, and had two last-ditch shots by Jeff Dunne and Tim Kennedy in the final seconds. The puck did not find the back of the net, however, and the two teams went to overtime.
Despite consistent pressure on the UNO goalie (Dupont was forced to make two saves in the extra session), the Spartans could not get the go-ahead tally and had to settle for a three-point weekend on the road.
Jeff Lerg made 18 saves for MSU, while Dupont had 23 in the tie.
Michigan State has games with its clustermates on tap next weekend - it hosts Ferris State on Friday evening at Munn Ice Arena, then will tangle with Michigan at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday. A limited number of tickets remain for Friday's tilt at home, and tickets are also available for Saturday's game in Detroit.
NOTES: The Spartans' six-game winning streak came to an end with the deadlock, but MSU is tied with North Dakota for the longest unbeaten streak in the country (seven games) ... Michigan State is now 5-7-1 on the road, and is 4-1-1 its last six road tilts ... Three of the last six MSU games have gone to overtime ... MSU is undefeated in its last 12 overtime games (4-0-8), last losing in OT to Nebraska-Omaha on Nov. 12, 2005 ... The first period power play by the Mavericks was the first allowed by the Spartans since January 13 vs. Alaska. A span of 242:26 elapsed between power play goals allowed ... MSU allowed more than one power play goal for the first time since a Dec. 2 loss to Ohio State, when the Spartan PK went 2-or-4. MSU's PK was 4-or-6 tonight against the Mavs ... The Spartans are now 4-7-1 when allowing their opponent to score first ... Bryan Lerg's second-period tally was his 18th of the season. In 2005-06, Drew Miller led the Spartans with 18 goals in 45 games ... Jim McKenzie's assist extended his point scoring streak to seven games. He leads the squad with 15 assists ... Nick Sucharski's scoring streak was also extended, as his assist pushed him to five straight games ... Justin Abdelkader's scoring streak was snapped at five games ...