Feb. 17, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- - Michigan State earned a split of its CCHA series with Northern Michigan with its 4-2 victory over the Wildcats at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing on Saturday. The Spartans battled back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits in the game, and for the second straight night scored three third-period goals. MSU had four different goal scorers, and three players ended up with multiple-point efforts for the Spartans, who improve to 9-20-3, 7-16-1-0 in conference play.
Lee Reimer had a goal and an assist, while Greg Wolfe and Ryan Keller each had two helpers on the evening. Michael Ferrantino, Chris Forfar, and Tanner Sorenson had the other Spartan scores, with Forfar's standing as the game-winner.
"I thought that we were pretty good tonight," said head coach Tom Anastos. "Our big takeaway from last night is that we were not good enough in front of the net - our own net, or theirs. When watching back last night's game, we showed the team that we needed to be better in front of their goalie to increase our scoring chances, and needed to be better defensively in front of our net. Last night, we rallied for late goals, and it wasn't enough. Tonight, we played better for 60 minutes and were rewarded for it."
The Spartans opened up a 16-1 edge in shots through the first 15 minutes of play, sustaining long stretches in the offensive zone and peppering Jared Coreau. It was the visitors, however, who found the back of the net first, as Mitch Jones called for the puck as Brian Nugent had it on the right wall with a pair of defenders pinning him in. Nugent got the puck to Jones, who took two strides into the high slot and sent a wrister netward. The puck found its way through the bodies in front, and beat a screened Hildebrand over his shoulder. That sent the visitors into the locker room with the one-goal lead, despite being outshot 19-3 in the period.
MSU wasted little time getting the goal back in the middle period, and did so while on the penalty kill. With Tanner Sorenson in the box for hitting from behind, Greg Wolfe intercepted a pass across the high slot on the NMU power play, and sent it out of the zone for a racing Lee Reimer. Reimer built a head of steam as he barreled through the neutral zone and broke in alone on Coreau, and beat him high blocker to knot the score at one. It was MSU's third shorthanded marker in five games.
MSU refused to take its foot off the gas, pressing to build on the lead. As the penalty to Sorenson expired, Wolfe sent another lead pass into the neutral zone, this time for David Bondra- Bondra tried to go high blocker on his shot as well, but Coreau caught a piece and sent it over the crossbar. The teams entered the second intermission in a 1-1 deadlock, and MSU still holding a considerable lead in shots on net (25-8).
The Spartans found themselves battling back from a deficit once again once Ryan Nugent gave the visitors a 2-1 lead at 5:06 of the final period. Nugent stole the puck at the left wall, stumbled into the high slot before collecting himself and backhanding the puck over Hildebrand's right shoulder. It was Nugent's first goal of the season.
Through the midpoint of the frame, the Spartans continued to be aggressive in their own zone. Killing off a Matt DeBlouw tripping penalty, the Spartans generated as many shots on the penalty kill (3) as the Wildcats did with a man advantage. Once back to full strength, RJ Boyd made a nice heads-up play to step around a defender and ripped a shot from the left point, but it was stopped in front by Coreau. Ryan Keller got a stick on it, but it laid in the low slot for an opportunistic Michael Ferrantino, who pounced on the loose puck and sent it past Coreau's glove hand to tie the game for the Spartans. The equalizing tally came at 9:49.
Less than 90 seconds later, Chris Forfar walked out of the left corner and shot short-side on Coreau. Lee Reimer tipped it down into the corner for the senior, who took two strides and found the sliver of space between the Wildcat netminder and the left post for Forfar's fourth score of the season - and MSU's first lead of the series.
The Wildcats, pushing for a game-tying goal of their own, had a higher hill to climb once Ryan Daugherty was whistled after nailing Ryan Keller from behind at 12:03. Daugherty was sent off on a major penalty and game misconduct, leaving Kory Kaunisto to serve the penalty. NMU was able to kill off the major penalty, but it left precious little time of five-on-five hockey to try to generate an equalizer.
NMU was finally able to get Coreau to the bench with 1:15 remaining in regulation, but Michigan State quickly worked to get the puck out of its defensive zone. At 19:12, Ryan Keller moved the puck to Tanner Sorenson on the right wall, and the sophomore's nifty little spin-o-rama move set up his shot into an empty net for the 4-2 final.
Jake Hildebrand battled through the dearth of action he saw in the first two periods, making 12 saves in the final period and 18 in the game. Coreau finished with 39 saves in the losing effort.
Michigan State readies for a long road trip, as it heads to Alaska next weekend for the final regular-season road trip of the 2012-13 season. Games each night will be 11:05 eastern.
NOTES: After going 26 games without a shorthanded goal to start the season, MSU has three in the last five games. Chris Forfar, Greg Wolfe, and Lee Reimer have scored them ... MSU had a season-high 19 first-period shots, and limited Northern Michigan to a season-low four in the same period ... Munn Arena hosted a sellout crowd of 6,574 fans on Saturday, the fourth sellout of the season. The Spartans are a perfect 4-0 in games which feature a sellout crowd at home this season ...