Nov. 10, 2012
By Neil Koepke, MSUSpartans.com staff writer
ANN ARBOR - For most of this season, Michigan State has been at its best in the third period.
On Friday, the Spartans were hoping for more magic in another come-from-behind situation in the final 20 minutes against No. 11 Michigan.
This time, however, it didn't work out.
MSU trailed 2-1 after two periods and had built momentum on Kevin Walrod's goal with 36.4 seconds left in the middle period.
But Michigan spoiled the Spartans hopes with an unassisted goal off a MSU turnover at 4:09 of the third period and the Wolverines went on to a 5-1 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 5,800 at Yost Arena.
In the opener of a CCHA home-and-home series, Spartan goalie Will Yanakeff made 29 saves, including several clutch stops in the second period that kept his team in the game.
But the opportunistic Wolverines' surge took away any drama over the final 20 minutes.
"In the first period, we looked a little tentative, and that didn't surprise me,'' MSU coach Tom Anastos said of MSU falling behind 2-0. "I liked how we were coming together in the second period. We were doing the things we needed to do to give ourselves a chance.
"We were in good position (to start the third period) but we made just a terrible turnover. Not just the goal, but it's a punch in the stomach - you give them a goal. Then we let the game get away.''
The Spartans (3-5-1 overall, 2-3 CCHA) will try to rebound in the series finale a 7 p.m. today at Munn Arena. MSU has split its last two series by winning on Saturday after a Friday loss.
For Michigan (4-3-1, 2-2-1-1), Lindsay Sparks scored at 6:55 and Boo Nieves made it 2-0 at 10:20. DeBlois, Kevin Lynch (15:28) and Jacob Trouba (18:04, power play) scored U-M's third-period goals.
Only six penalties were called in a game that lacked the feistiness of typical Spartan-Wolverine contests. U-M was 1-for-4 on the power play while MSU was 0-for-2.
Walrod, with an assist from Michael Ferrantino, made it a one-goal game when he beat U-M freshman goalie Jared Rutledge (28 saves) at 19:23 of the second period.
"I hopped off the bench and the puck was tied up with Ferratino at the blue line. He was able to poke it through and I got a clear lane to the net,'' said Walrod, whose goal was his first of the season. "A guy closed in on my and I went to my backhand, I fired it and it happened to go in
"We wanted to build off that. And we came out strong in the third period but a couple of mistakes gave them the momentum. Usually, the third period is our best period. It's a learning experience. I don't think 5-1 is what it should have been. It was more like a 2-1 game.''
Anastos said Michigan did "the kind of things we thought they would," and praised Yanakeff for keeping the Spartans close.
"When you play against good teams and make mistakes, often times it ends up in your net,'' he said. "You play average teams and often times you get away with it.
"On the first goal, (Yanakeff) was a little off his angle and I didn't think he looked comfortable in the first period. In the second, he did. His confidence was building and he made some critical saves at key times.''
The Spartans hope to be more opportunistic offensively and limit Michigan's transition game in Saturday's rematch.
"It's making good decisions with the puck in certain places on the ice so it's not easy for them to transition,'' Anastos said. "When we did take care of the puck, they weren't able to do it.
"We have to do a better job of making sure pucks aren't turned over in the neutral zone and make it harder for them to generate speed through the neutral zone.''
Said MSU captain and right wing Greg Wolfe, "Overall, we had a good effort and were right there but we didn't bury our chances. It's frustrating. I don't think the score reflected the type of game it was.
"We've been a Saturday team this year. We hope to rebound. We'll be ready.''