March 17, 2013
Oxford, Ohio - Michigan State's hockey season came to a close on Sunday night in Miami, as the Spartans fell to the top-seeded RedHawks, 4-1, in the third and deciding game of the CCHA quarterfinal series. The Spartans conclude the season with a 14-25-3 overall record. Miami advances to the final CCHA Championship weekend in Detroit with Michigan, Ohio State, and Notre Dame.
"We asked our guys to empty the tank tonight, and that is absolutely what they did," said head coach Tom Anastos. "They played with heart, and they played with toughness. I really thought our effort was outstanding. Special teams, as they usually are, played a big part of how tonight's game was decided."
Miami jumped on the board at 4:57. The RedHawks dumped the puck deep into the zone while skating shorthanded, and Hildebrand skated over to the right wall to play it. He tried to play it behind the net, but it instead hit the goal cage and popped out into the top of the crease. Kevin Morris had an empty net into which he deposited the shorthanded goal, his seventh goal of the season.
MSU countered with a quality shorthanded chance of its own, as Greg Wolfe broke free on a breakaway just seconds into a cross-checking penalty against Anthony Hayes. Wolfe deked and tried to sneak one five-hole, but McKay closed the pads and made the save.
Miami doubled its lead before heading into the first intermission. The Spartans generated a strong chance as Ryan Keller fought off a defender and went in hard on net, but McKay made the stop. On the counterattack, Sean Kuraly drove to the net and scored on the doorstep, off assists from Alex Gacek and Steven Spinnell.
MSU kept pushing, and Miami spent a good amount of time in the penalty box in the second period. Skating five-on-three at around the seven-minute mark and with another penalty awaiting on a delayed call, Matt DeBlouw was at the right point, too k a pass from Tanner Sorenson, and ripped a shot that beat McKay high glove-side. It was the fourth of the post-season for the freshman centerman, and his 10th of the season. DeBlouw looked like he had a second on the night, as his shot from the left side clanged off what looked like the inside right corner of the goal cage, but after a review, the no-goal call on the ice stood. Despite five power-play chances overall in the second frame, the Spartans would only get into the second intermission with the one marker, trailing their hosts 2-1.
The third period was MSU's turn to spend time in the box, as Miami had three power-play chances in the period. With Chris Forfar in the box for MSU on a hooking call, the Spartans had a good shorthanded chance when Ryan Keller drove to the net, but his shot was saved by McKay. The rush went the other way, and Sean Kuraly was able to put back a rebound on the doorstep to push the home team's lead to 3-1. It was the first power-play goal for the RedHawks in five games against the Spartans this season; Miami went 1-for-15 on the man advantage across those five games.
The Spartans certainly pushed to climb back into the game, but an Austin Czarnik goal into an empty net sealed the RedHawk victory at 19:36.
"I'm really proud of our effort down the stretch, but that is not to say that we are satisfied with the end result," noted Anastos. " This was a very difficult season, and I thought that we learned how to handle adversity and learned how to be resilient. This is going to be a building block - our players learned a lot about what it takes and the effort that they need to have to be successful. I'm very proud that they battled and played so hard to the absolute end. Where we are today is a sign of progress."