Nov. 30, 2007
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - Michigan State killed off a five-minute major in the final eight minutes of the game and had to withhold intense pressure from Lake Superior State in the late stages of the contest, but held on for a 3-2 victory at Taffy Abel Arena on Friday night. Jeff Lerg made 23 saves, and three Spartans had multiple-point nights as MSU snapped a four-game winless streak and improved to 9-3-2, 5-2-1 CCHA. LSSU is now 2-10-1, 0-7-0 CCHA.
With MSU leading 3-1, Dustin Gazley was whistled for a major for checking from behind at 11:45, and was also assessed a game disqualification, making him ineligible for Saturday night's game between the teams. The Spartans had a spirited, aggressive penalty kill, and held the Lakers off the board for the entire five minutes and most of the balance of regulation (3:00), but the Lakers kept pushing, and eventually got an extra attacker goal at 19:40 from freshman Rick Schofield for the final 3-2 margin.
"I thought we played well tonight, and thought we were building to get more in the third before we took the penalty and had to go on the kill for five minutes," noted Rick Comley after the game. "I thought [Lake State} got going on the major a little, but Jeff [Lerg] made some good save, and we did a really good job killing the penalty."
One of MSU's trouble spots in the last five games had been the power play - the Spartans had converted on just four of their last 32 opportunities, but scored twice in three opportunities in the first period to stake a 2-0 lead at the first intermission. Both times, it was the second power play unit solving the Laker freshman goaltender Brian Mahoney-Wilson. At 14:06, Bryan Lerg held the puck in the right circle and faked the slapshot - he instead dished to Matt Schepke at the goal line. Schepke's shot was saved by Mahoney-Wilson, but the fat rebound came back into the slot for Bryan Lerg. The senior captain wristed the shot from the hashmarks to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.
Laker captain Dan Eves was whistled for a cross-check at 19:00, putting MSU back on the man advantage for the balance of the period. With time winding down, Mike Ratchuk and passed across the points to Nick Sucharski, who found Chris Mueller in the left circle the back of the net with just eight seconds remaining in the period for his second goal of the season.
Michigan State added to its lead just over three minutes into the middle frame, when Sucharski took a pass from Schepke and broke in on a two-on-one with Corey Tropp. Sucharski held the puck and streaked up the left side, and fired a shot over the stick-hand shoulder of Mahoney-Wilson.
The hosts cut into the lead at 10:19 with a power play goal. After Steven Kaunisto rung a shot off the crossbar, the rebound was batted around in the slot until Nathan Perkovich finally got a solid stick on it and pushed it past Jeff Lerg. The Lakers outshot MSU 13-6 in that middle period, but Jeff Lerg made 12 of his 25 saves in the period to keep the home team from crawling much closer. LSSU held an 8-5 shot advantage in the final frame, much thanks to the five-minute power play.
The two teams will face off again on Saturday evening at 7 p.m.
NOTES: MSU extended its unbeaten streak against the Lakers to 11 games (9-0-2) and its winning streak to five contests ... The power play went 2-for-4 on the night, the first time in five games that it had multiple PPG ... the kill was 1-for-5 after a perfect 6-or-6 last weekend in the College Hockey Showcase ... Bryan Lerg has goals in each of his last two games, and the trio of Lerg, Chris Mueller (1-2-3) and Dustin Gazley (0-2-2) has eight points in the last two games playing together ... Tim Kennedy has not scored a goal in two games, tying his longest goal-less drought of the season ... Nick Sucharski and Corey Tropp each have had multiple-point efforts in their last two games ... Having been assessed the disqualification penalty, Dustin Gazley will not play on Saturday.