Walking away from Friday night’s game, one thing MSU hockey can be sure of is the Spartans still have some fight in them.
Unfortunately, fight doesn’t show up on the scoreboard.
“We know, because hockey hasn’t changed, there’s 60 minutes to a game,” MSU (8-20-3 overall, 6-16-1-0 CCHA) head coach Tom Anastos said. “I know it’s been a challenging season, but we’ve gotta learn to play and compete hard for 60 minutes.”
Instead of finding a way to play for three full periods, MSU only showed a spark for about 10 minutes and as a result, Northern Michigan (13-14-4 overall, 7-12-4-1 CCHA) came out on top, winning 5-3.
The Wildcats came out swinging, scoring two goals in the first period and one in the second.
The Spartans entered the third period with a 3-0 deficit staring them in the face, but managed to fight back and pull the game within a goal, making it 3-2 at one point.
Sophomore forward Matt Berry scored his first goal since Dec. 30, and racked up his first point since Jan. 19. His goal — MSU’s first of the night — came with an assist from freshman defenseman Travis Walsh.
“Someone kept it on the wall and got it to Walshy,” Berry said. “He made a nice saucer pass over to me on the far side, and then I just cut it back across and scored on the blocker side.”
Junior defenseman Jake Chelios netted the Spartans’ second tally, but Northern Michigan lengthened its lead even more only a few minutes later.
With 39 seconds to play, MSU sophomore forward Brent Darnell blindly batted at the puck while spinning and falling down, managing to find the back of the net in the process. But, in the fashion of MSU’s season, the Wildcats scored an empty-netter to polish off the game and stomp out a possible Spartan comeback.
“We didn’t have a ton of jump to start the game, and obviously we went down a couple (goals),” captain and junior forward Greg Wolfe said. “And then it’s just another uphill battle. I thought we had a lot of good scoring chances, and they didn’t go in until the third, but it’s a positive they went in tonight.”
Senior forward Chris Forfar received a 10-minute misconduct with 9:41 to play in the third, putting another damper on the momentum MSU had generated.
When asked what brought on the misconduct, Anastos said he believes Forfar skated past the Northern Michigan penalty box and banged his stick on the glass at a Wildcat who had gotten a penalty about a minute and a half earlier.
“We didn’t have to have a guy down, but you’re playing with one less player,” Anastos said. “So it takes you out of any rhythm. Now you’re changing your lines, you’re mixing different players into the mix and you have all this momentum that … you’ve worked for, and that takes a bit of it away.”