Spartans Sweep Non-League Set, Defeat Sacred Heart 7-5
Graham, Kennedy post three-point nights
Oct. 28, 2006
East Lansing - Michigan State went 3-for-7 on the power play and had six players with multiple-point nights to help propel the Spartans to a 7-5 victory over visiting Sacred Heart at Munn Ice Arena on Saturday evening. The Spartans improve to 3-1-0 with the win, while Sacred Heart falls to 2-3-1. Nick Sucharski scored twice for Michigan State, while Tim Kennedy and Ethan Graham led the offensive charge with a goal and pair of assists each.
"I thought we made a lot of progress this weekend," noted head coach Rick Comley, who's team had played only two countable games coming into this weekend's action, compared to four and six games by all other conference schools. "I think it was some good prep for what we have coming up, which is as tough a six-week stretch as there is in college hockey. Its obviously still the point of the year where we have work to do, too."
The Spartans owned a 2-0 lead less than five minutes into the game. The first tally came on a highlight-reel play which began deep in the right corner by Matt Schepke, who's pass found a crashing Nick Sucharski in the slot. Michigan State doubled its lead at 4:47, when Tim Kennedy had the puck behind the net on the power play, and his pass attempt ricocheted off a defender in front and slipped past goalie Jason Smith glove-side. The Spartans, who owned a 20-3 edge in shots on goal in the first period, added a goal in the final minute of the frame while skating on the power play. Ethan Graham, stationed at the right point, took a pass from Jeff Dunne at the far side of the blueline and slapped home his first goal of the year with just 37 seconds remaining in the frame for a 3-0 intermission lead.
Sucharski pottedhis second goal of the night midway through the second frame, when he tipped a Graham slapper from the point stick-side past Smith. The Spartan advantage moved to 5-0 on a goal from its all-sophomore line, their first points since opening night against Western Michigan (three games). Abdelkader was behind the net to the goalie's right, and slipped a pass to Tim Crowder in the low slot, who put a soft shot past Smith for his third goal of the season.
Eric Giosa broke up the Spartan shutout bid with his goal at the 16:02 mark of the second frame. Alesandre Parent put a nifty backhand pass through the low slot at the top of the crease for Giosa, who netted his second goal of the season. The Pioneers cut the lead to 5-2 with a Dave Jarman tally at 19:34 to send MSU into the second intermission with the three-goal lead, then cut into it again midway through the final frame when Parent tipped a Dave Grimson shot past Jeff Lerg.
Back in the ballgame, the Pioneers had a bid to make it a one-goal game, but Bear Trapp's offering was pushed off the left post by Jeff Lerg. Minutes later, the Jim McKenzie and Bryan Lerg broke into the offensive zone, and McKenzie held the puck just long enough to draw a defender before he put a pass onto the stick of Lerg, who broke in alone. He faked forehand and lifted a backhander over the leg pad of Jones to push the MSU lead to 6-3.
The Spartans, who had struggled on the power play in their first three games (2-for-20 entering Saturday's contest) posted their third goal on the man advantage on the night when a Mike Ratchuk slapshot from the right point through traffic found its way to the back of the net for his first career goal and 7-3 MSU lead.
The Pioneers clawed back into the game once again with two goals within a span of just over a minute and a half. The first goal at 14:23 came as Scott Marchesi took a slapshot from the top of the left circle that was saved by Jeff Lerg. The rebound came out to the left of the goaltender and a swarm of bodies, which left enough room for Marchesi to swoop in and bury his own rebound. Senior defenseman Charles Veilleux posted his first goal of the season at 16:03 on a shot from the half-wall which took a funny bounce and beat Jeff Lerg glove-side. A penalty taken at the 18:27 mark by Corey Lauryson negated any opportunity for the Pioneers to inch any closer, and the Spartans escaped with the 7-5 victory.
Michigan State will spend the next week preparing for a home-and-home with archrival Michigan next Friday and Saturday. The two teams will face off on Friday night at Munn and Saturday night in Ann Arbor.
NOTES: Nick Sucharski's two-goal night was the first of his collegiate career. He only had two goals in his freshman season, during which he missed several games with illness early in the year ... Jay Sprague's point-scoring streak was extended to four games with the first multiple-point game of his career. He shares the team lead in scoring with Tim Kennedy (1-4-5) ... Kennedy's three-point effort set a career high ... Ethan Graham recorded his fifth career multiple-point outing and first career three-point game ... ... Bryan Lerg has now scored a goal in three straight games, one off his career best ... Two of Lerg's three goals this season have been game-winners ... Michigan State's 3-for-7 effort on the power play improved its power play to 18.5% on the season. Its penalty kill is 16-for-18 (88.9%) ... Michigan State has not allowed an opponent more than 23 shots in a game this season, and the high was set in the lone loss of the season (3-2 at Western Michigan). St. Lawrence had 17 on Friday night, and Sacred Heart 20 on Saturday ...