Detroit, Mich. — After Saturday night’s game, Chris Forfar said somebody could have heard a pin drop in the MSU hockey locker room.
It was a game that marked MSU’s (10-16-2 overall, 7-13-2-2 CCHA) second consecutive loss to rival Michigan (7-18-3 overall, 5-14-1-0), falling 5-2, and making the Spartans feel like they all were punched in the stomach stomach.
“Well, we’re obviously not happy,” Forfar, the senior forward, said. “These are some of the biggest games of the year. I know they all count the same, but the Michigan rivalry is something we all look forward to. (We) definitely came out short tonight.”
The Spartans were put on an early power play, but barely were able to convert it into shots on net. Minutes later, MSU sophomore forward Tanner Sorenson headed to the box on a hooking call about 16 seconds in, and U-M got on the board with a power-play goal.
Halfway through the first and while on the penalty kill, Wolverine forward Derek DeBlois picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, carried it into MSU’s zone and netted a wrister in the upper right corner.
Following the pattern of the game, MSU senior forward Chris Forfar scored a goal in the second period while Spartan sophomore defenseman R.J. Boyd was in the box.
Forfar picked up the puck near MSU’s blue line, got off on a breakaway and stuffed the puck.
“When they got those first two goals tonight, it was tough for us, but I thought we battled back pretty well,” captain and junior forward Greg Wolfe said. “Same thing as always: we just couldn’t put together the full 60 minutes. That was the difference in the game.”
It didn’t take long for U-M to lengthen its lead once more. After killing off a penalty by Jon Merrill, the Wolverine forward Andrew Copp received the puck in freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand’s crease and put it away before Hildebrand could reach for it.
While on a four-on-four, Wolfe scored a goal that could have stolen back the momentum and switched the direction of the game.
He dove across the goal for a loose puck in front of the U-M net, simultaneously diving and swinging his stick at the puck, which managed to get pushed in.
To the dismay of MSU, with 16 seconds remaining in the second period, U-M’s offense made a series of great passes, ending up with DeBlois getting a rebound and burying it for his second of the night.
Any momentum gained from Wolfe’s goal immediately was stolen back.
“I think you make your own luck,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “But that goal at the end of the second period, the puck’s wobbling, he hits it, it falls flat right to a guy, who has an open net to score. Those are things that we just can’t get by for some reason. Those untimely mistakes, untimely goals against continue to cost us.”
Michigan head coach Red Berenson said DeBlois’ second goal was one that “really discourages the other team,” and MSU proved that to be the case.
“That was huge,” Berenson said. “We were on our heels, we weren’t playing well. We had given up a goal and we were sloppy in our zone. That goal — that was a huge goal.”
U-M capped off the game when U-M forward Cristoval Nieves threw a puck off an MSU defenseman’s skate and ended up behind Hildebrand in the net.
Hildebrand faced a total 40 shots on Saturday; U-M goaltender Jared Rutledge saved 26.
“If there was any desperation, it probably showed up too late,” Forfar said. “We needed to play with a sense of urgency from the drop of the puck in the first period. We can’t wait to let Michigan score five goals and then decide that we want to score one. It has to be consistent throughout the game.”