Feb. 23, 2013
Fairbanks, Alaska -- - Michigan State put together its first back-to-back wins of the season, getting an early score and holding on for a 1-0 victory at Alaska on Friday night. Junior Will Yanakeff drew the start in net and made an impressive 37 saves, keeping MSU in the game despite being outshot by a 37-14 margin. Greg Wolfe had MSU's lone score, but it was enough to secure MSU's third road win in conference games this season.
"Will has been battling every day in practice, and we came up here with the thought that we would probably split the goaltenders this weekend," said head coach Tom Anastos. "We went with our gut feel tonight to play him. He was absolutely outstanding, and I am really happy for him.
"I thought we started strong, but things then settled down a bit for Alaska," continued Anastos. "Fatigue is a factor of this travel - but ugly can be a good win too. That's what we ended up having. We need to get a good night's rest and be ready to play tomorrow, because it will be another battle."
Michigan State (10-20-3, 8-16-1-0 CCHA) earned its first victory in game one of a CCHA series this season, and just its third victory on a Friday night during this 2012-13 campaign. It was the first time that the Spartans had been able to put together back-to-back victories this year as well. MSU had gone 0-5-3 after its first eight victories.
MSU jumped out to the early lead and held a 7-5 edge in shots after it took a 1-0 lead just before the midpoint of the opening frame, but was then limited to just seven more shots over the balance of the game. The home team settled in and went on to a game total of 37 shots, several a result of dangerous scoring chances which Yanakeff handled with poise.
MSU staked its lead at 7:53 of the opening frame. Junior captain Greg Wolfe took a pass from behind goal line, fired, and his shot beat John Keeney for a 1-0 lead. Matt Berry and John Draeger were credited with assists - Draeger kept the puck in the zone, and got it deep for Berry. Berry backhanded it out to Wolfe for the score.
MSU was outshot by a 10-2 margin in the second period, the fewest shots for the Spartans in any period this season. The story of the period - and the game, really - was the play of Yanakeff, who made several impressive saves en route to his total of 37 in the game.
The Spartans had to battle through three penalty kills in the third period, none more precarious than with 1:19 to play in regulation, when Jake Chelios was sent off for cross-checking - that put Alaska on the power play, setting up a potential 6-on-4 if the Nanooks could get Keeney to the bench. MSU's defense weathered the storm, and Yanakeff came up with a pair of big saves as the final seconds ticked off the clock to ensure the victory.
Alaska finished the night 0-for-4 on the power play, while MSU's lone man advantage lasted all of 11 seconds.
Yanakeff was the first star of the game, and Wolfe the second. Nanook Andy Taranto was the game's third star.
The two teams will face off on Saturday at 11 pm eastern time at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks. MSU will look for its first three-game winning streak of the season. MSU has won three straight games in the series.