Feb. 26, 2012
South Bend, Ind. - Saturday night was a big one for junior defenseman and Spartan captain Torey Krug.
The CCHA Player of the Year candidate's second-period goal against Notre Dame stood as the game-winning tally as Michigan State salvaged a series split with the Irish, 4-2. The win snapped a 11-game winless streak for MSU against the Irish, dating back to January 2008. Krug's goal also gave him a share of the 2011-12 CCHA scoring title, the first defenseman in 25 years to sit atop the league scoring chart and the first Spartan defenseman to ever claim a share of the CCHA scoring crown.
More importantly to Krug, the victory snapped an 11-game winless streak against the Irish, and pushed MSU to a fifth-place finish in the CCHA standings. MSU will have a bye in the CCHA first round, traveling to fourth-seeded Miami for the quarterfinals March 9-11.
"I know that Torey will likely just deflect the praise of his accomplishment to his teammates," said head coach Tom Anastos. "But you really have to stop for a second and appreciate how hard it is to do what he has done. Its a testament to how hard he works, and I know that his teammates will take a lot of pride in what he has accomplished. He works hard, is a great leader for us, and deserves this recognition for an impressive accomplishment."
Anders Lee gave the home team a 1-0 lead before the game was five minutes old, redirecting a rebound right in front of Yanakeff on the power play for his 15th goal of the season. Assists went to Billy Maday and Sam Calabrese.
The Spartans got an equalizer late in the period to head into the first intermission tied at one. The Irish had some issues on a shift change, and Brett Perlini sent the lead pass over to Kevin Walrod, and the winger broke into the zone on a 2-on-1 with Trevor Nill. Walrod sniped his ninth goal of the season from the right circle over the glove hand of Johnson.
Centerman TJ Tynan gave his team a 2-1 lead midway through the second period. Skating shorthanded, the Irish had numbers deep in the Spartan zone, and held the puck on a delayed penalty. Tynan had a defender on his hip, but moved from left to right across the crease and beat Yanakeff for his 13th goal of the season.
Not to be outdone, MSU got a shorthanded tally of its own at 17:01, knotting the score at two. Chris Forfar took the feed from Anthony Hayes on a faceoff win. The Spartans weren't done, as Hayes set up classmate Krug's blast from the left point that found its intended destination with just over 40 seconds remaining to send the visitors into the locker room with a 3-2 lead.
An insurance goal for the Spartans came midway through the third period. Dean Chelios had the puck at the right point, and fired netward, breaking his stick. Chelios immediately turned back to the bench for a new stick, missing the fact that his shot had made its way through traffic and into the back of the net past Johnson.
Yanakeff made 27 saves in the victory, earning first star honors. Krug was the No. 2 star, and Tynan the No. 3.