Dec. 15, 2012
By Neil Koepke, MSUSpartans.com staff writer
EAST LANSING - For sure, it was Michigan State's best game since mid-November.
And with offense, defense, goaltending and special teams in sync and energy and intensity at a high level, the Spartans' 3-1 victory over No. 19 Ferris State on Saturday ranks as one of their best efforts of the season.
The Spartans, now off on Christmas break, end the first half of the season with records of 5-10-2 overall and 4-8-1-0 in the CCHA.
"I liked the way we played the whole game. We did a good job in the way we attacked them,'' MSU coach Tom Anastos said. "Ferris State defends really well; they don't make it easy. Defensively, we played pretty well.
"At the end, we were scrambling on that 6-on-4 edge. But our guys were blocking shots, sacrificing themselves and they missed a lot of shots. We might have been living right tonight. I wish we lived right a few more nights.''
The Spartans had not won a game in their last three series and had not scored more than two goals in six straight games. They lost and tied at Miami, got swept at home by Ohio State and lost two last weekend at Notre Dame. In those six games, MSU scored only six goals.
"It's nice to see the puck go in the net a little bit and for us to get the result we did,'' Anastos said. "It feels good going into the break.''
Spartan players will now head for their homes all over North America - Alaska (Sorenson), British Columbia (Matt Grassi), Minnesota (John Draeger), Florida (R.J. Boyd), among lots of other spots in the Midwest and Michigan.
The players will return on Christmas night and have about six practices before opening the Great Lakes Invitational against Western Michigan at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 29.
Ferris State (7-7-3, 6-6-1) tied it at 15:49 of the second period when defenseman Jason Binkley's shot from the right point eluded a screened Spartan goalie Jake Hildebrand (23 saves).
So the game came down to the last 20 minutes, with the Spartans trying to keep from entering the holiday break with a six-game losing streak.
A faceoff win by Greg Wolfe set the stage for a rewarding third period. He got the puck back to the left point, where defenseman R.J. Boyd wristed the puck toward the net and an open Forfar on the edge of the crease.
Forfar reached out and directed the puck into the lower left corner, beating FSU standout goalie C.J. Motte at 1:32.
"It was so fast. My stick was there and the pass was there and it went in,'' Forfar said of his second goal of the season. "Boyd made a better play than I did. All I had to do was touch it.''
Forfar played on a line with Wolfe and Kevin Walrod, due to an upper body injury to Lee Reimer, the regular center on that unit. The new threesome had a very good night, creating several quality scoring chances.
"Everyone was going tonight, from our top line to everyone on offense and defense,'' Forfar said. "Wolfe and Walrod are good players to be with. They make it easy. I felt like an offensive guy.''
Meanwhile, Sorenson had one of his best games of the season, and was having an impact even before his timely, crowd-pleasing goal at 11:24 of the third period.
Sorenson got the puck outside the left circle and reared back and let go with a slap shot that was deflected in front and rocketed into the top right corner to give MSU a 3-1 lead and make the final minute a little less hectic.
"That was a big windup and I got a hold of it. It got tipped by one of their defensemen and I got kind of lucky,'' Sorenson said of his fourth goal of the season and first since Oct. 27.
"The last few weeks, we haven't been getting the bounces. Tonight, Berry gets a good tip and it trickles in, Forfar gets a nice goal (on a deflection) and I get one. It seemed like all our lines got into a good flow. There weren't a lot of penalties so everyone got on the ice.''
Boyd, a sophomore transfer, also assisted on Sorenson's goal for a two-point night.
Anastos said Sorenson was playing so well that he got double-shifted at times and make good use of his extra ice time.
"Tanner had a very good game. He has the capacity to do that if he keeps his shifts short and he did that,'' Anastos said. "He was effective and played with a lot of speed.
"What I really liked about his game was he not only played with speed both ways - offensively and defensively - he made good decisions, when he had the puck and when he didn't have it.''
Hildebrand, a freshman making his 9th start in MSU's last 10 games, delivered another solid game in a quiet-but-efficient way.
This time, his team got some goals for him and he ended up with his third victory of the season.
"Hildy again played outstanding. He made some huge saves,'' Anastos said. "I don't know if you saw that one puck (shot from far out in the third period) bounce in front and his left hand came up quick to grab it.
"He made a lot of nice saves but I don't know if there was one that was bigger than that one.''
The Spartans were 0-for-3 on the power play while MSU's penalty killers skated off four Bulldog power plays.
"We came out strong in the first period and I think that was a carryover from the first period we had last Saturday at Notre Dame,.'' Boyd said.
"It's great to finish out the semester with a win at home. We go home feeling good, we'll come back feeling and then after a few practices, we'll feel good going into to the GLI.
"We need to be ready for the GLI because that will set the tempo for the rest of the season. If we do well there, from there it'll be only going up.''