Spartans knock off No. 1 Miami, earn split
Oxford, Ohio — Junior forward Andrew Rowe made two smooth moves to slide by defenders before taking a hard wrist shot at the net from the high slot.
And that’s all he remembers.
Rowe can’t recall the puck going into the net or being sandwiched between teammates in celebration.
But he remembers skating off the ice knowing the MSU hockey team just upset the No. 1 team in the nation.
The Spartans gave No. 1 Miami (Ohio) its first loss of the season Saturday night, winning 3-2 in overtime at Steve Cady Arena and earning the weekend split.
“I blacked out,” Rowe said after netting the game winner. “I think luck had a big part of it because these (Miami defenders) don’t make mistakes often. They least expected it, and I put a shot on net. The rest is history.”
MSU had a commanding 2-0 lead against the RedHawks until midway though the third period, when Miami scored two late goals to energize their home crowd.
The Spartans spent the majority of the third period on their heels, desperately trying not to give up a late goal, as they allowed Miami’s game winner with 1:58 left in regulation Friday.
“(Friday), it was there for the taking for us and we had a let down right at the end that can’t happen,” Rowe said. “(Saturday) it almost seemed like it was going the same way. But we kept our composure till the end and took it to them.”
It’s unlikely the Spartans would have had success this weekend without stellar goaltending — as senior Bobby Jarosz started Friday and made 26 saves, and sophomore Drew Palmisano started Saturday, making 35 saves.
“Bobby played phenomenal (Friday) and I think we were all upset we couldn’t win for him,” MSU junior forward Corey Tropp said. “Palmy came back and answered (Saturday). He did a phenomenal job between the pipes. That’s what (we) need — efforts like both of them had all weekend to have success all season long.”
Both goaltenders credited the defense for sacrificing their bodies and blocking shots throughout the weekend.
“All weekend, our defense did a great job,” Palmisano said. “They were blocking shots and clearing out the rebounds for us.”
Three of the Spartans’ four goals on the weekend came on the power play, with the team going 3-for-13 with the man advantage. MSU now is 11-for-41 (26.8 percent) on the power play this season, good for eighth in the nation.
“Our power play was really impressive, especially because Miami is an outstanding penalty killing team,” MSU head coach Rick Comley said.
Freshman forward Derek Grant scored goals in both games and has recorded multiple-point games in five of MSU’s six games this season.
“He’s a very skilled player,” Comley said of Grant. “He’s got a chance to be a very good player here as he gets stronger and gets used to everything.”
The Spartans (4-2-0 overall, 1-1-0-0 CCHA) continue conference play this weekend, with a home-and-home series against Western Michigan.
“We just beat the No. 1 team in the country and in their home rink,” Tropp said. “Hopefully, this will give us a little bit of confidence and motivation to carry into next weekend.”