Ann Arbor, Mich. — For the third time this season, MSU hockey got beaten by Michigan in the third period.
Heading into the final period with a 1-1 tie, the Wolverines bested the Spartans and came out on top, 3-2, Friday night at Yost Ice Arena.
“We’ve gotta learn to be more patient; that’s not a good trait of ours right now,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “During the course of the game when we did show patience and we picked our spots, it created opportunity for us to either move the puck out, move the puck in, create a line rush or whatever it might be.”
As a highlight for MSU, sophomore forward Brent Darnell was put back in the lineup after missing two and a half games with a head injury, and he didn’t want to waste a minute on the ice.
In fact, he only wasted 4:53 — exactly how long it took Darnell to steal the puck along the boards and score an odd-angled shot while practically on the goal line, getting the wrister in from the right side of the ice.
“It felt good to get back, especially putting one in there early,” he said. “It was a pretty fast-paced game, I thought. You need that. I didn’t want a slow game, I got in there early enough. It felt good to be back out there, especially here at Yost (Ice Arena).”
Unfortunately for MSU, that early start was not enough to counter another late surge by U-M.
About seven minutes into the second frame, MSU killed off a tripping penalty by junior forward Lee Reimer, but seconds later U-M’s Derek DeBlois tied the game at one after picking up a turnover and beating freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand.
In the third period, U-M knotted a sloppy goal after a cleared puck bounced off the back of senior forward Anthony Hayes, found the stick of a Wolverine and eventually the back of Hildebrand’s net.
“On their first goal, it was easy to clear the puck out and we bobble it and it ends up in our net,” Anastos said. “Second goal, we had a nice clearing opportunity. We make a bad decision and start racing down the ice and it hits us in the back. It just seems that’s how things are going.”
Less than a minute later after U-M’s second goal, junior defenseman Jake Chelios got MSU back in the race. Freshman forward Michael Ferrantino fought for the puck along the boards, and passed the puck out to Chelios who skated it across the crease and slipped the puck in.
“They gave us a little more freedom to pinch down and become a little more offensive,” Chelios said. “I saw it go down, Ferrantino and me made a pretty good switch, it was just a battle. I saw the puck pop out toward the middle and I don’t think anybody else saw it in time.”
In an eventful period, and the Wolverines climbed back on top only minutes later.
U-M’s Cristoval Nieves and Phil Di Giuseppe created an end-to-end back and forth which resulted in Nieves notching his second tally of the night and the final goal of the game.
The Wolverines’ late goal rush was not the first time it got the best of MSU.
When U-M beat MSU, 5-1, on Nov. 9, three of the Wolverines’ goals came in the third period. A similar story played out in the Great Lakes Invitational, when U-M pulled out four goals in the final period and defeated MSU, 5-2.
Despite U-M’s two goals in the final frame, Chelios said he believes the Spartans got a good number of chances in the third, and said he wants to carry that type of play over to Saturday’s game against the Wolverines.
“The third period was definitely our best period as far as chances go,” Chelios said. “I just think it took a little too long to get going.”