March 10, 2012
East Lansing, Mich - Miami once again put on a second-period blitz, blowing open a 1-1 game with three goals in the middle frame to post a 4-1 victory over Michigan State in the second game of the CCHA quarterfinal series in Oxford. Torey Krug had the lone Spartan marker, while senior Drew Palmisano had an outstanding 38-save performance in net for MSU (19-15-4).
The RedHawks sweep the CCHA quarterfinal series and advance to the CCHA Championship weekend in Detroit; Michigan State will sit idle and hope for some results around the country which will keep them in the top 14 of the PairWise rankings, the selection tool utilized by the committee charged with selecting the 16-team field for the NCAA Tournament. The tournament field will be announced Sunday, March 18.
"I couldn't have asked for more from our guys in terms of the way they competed tonight," said head coach Tom Anastos. "We lost to a very good team - probably the toughest team we played this season. We talked about laying it on the line for our seniors, and I thought we did that tonight. We didn't accomplish our goal of coming away with a win, but we competed hard."
The teams traded power-play markers in the first 12 minutes of play. The home team got on the board at 5:58, as Reilly Smith finished off a rush up the right side.
At 12:04, the Spartans got their first goal of the series. Greg Wolfe slid the puck over to Torey Krug at the top of the left circle, and Krug slid into the high slot. Krug's shot was blocked by the skate of the defenseman just above the hash, and as the blueliner looked for the puck, Krug collected it and sent a wrister netward, and the puck found its mark just under the crossbar for Krug's 12th goal of the season. That sent the teams into the locker room with the score knotted at one.
The second period was again the big one for Miami, potting three goals to take a 4-1 lead into the second intermission. The scoring started with a power-play goal by Chris Wideman on a screened Palmisano at 9:49.
Matt Tomassoni was whistled for roughing at 10:23, and once his penalty expired, it sprung him for a breakaway chance which he finished off at 12:30. Reilly Smith forced a turnover on the MSU D at the blueline, and fed Tomassoni for his sixth marker of the season. As it did the night before, MSU allowed a second goal within a minute, as Alden Hirschfeld converted a pass from Bryon Paulazzo at 13:11 to give the home team a 4-1 lead in the second intermission.
The third period was a strong one for the Spartans, but the the continued impressive play of senior goalie Connor Knapp wouldn't allow MSU to crawl back into the game.
Palmisano was good in his end as well, stifiling the chances Miami generated in that final period. He finished with 38 saves.
MSU must now watch the scoreboard from remaining games around college hockey as the conference tournaments play out. MSU will miss its fifth consecutive CCHA Championship weekend, as it last played at Joe Louis in the CCHA Tournament in 2007.