Torey Krug knows what’s at stake when his team plays Michigan.
With in-state bragging rights and respect of the college hockey world on the line, the junior defenseman and team captain stepped up and scored two goals and added an assist before a season-high crowd of 7,103 fans. He sent the No. 17 MSU hockey team ahead of the Wolverines, 3-2, Friday at Munn Ice Arena.
The Spartans are now 16-11-4 overall this season with a 11-9-3-2 mark in the CCHA and pick up three points to pull to a tie for third with the Wolverines with 38 points each in the CCHA standings.
“I love playing these guys; I think everyone in our locker room loves playing these guys, and they love playing us,” Krug said.
“It’s just something you love to do. When you play these games, you’re not just playing it for the guys in the locker room. You’re not playing for just the people that attend the school. You’re playing for a whole country of Spartans everywhere, and we played for them tonight.”
The last times these teams met, the Spartans and the Wolverines went to overtime in the 2011 Great Lakes Invitational, where defenseman Kevin Clare netted the goal to give U-M a 3-2 win and its second consecutive title in the tournament. The goal came after MSU blew a 2-1 lead late in the third period with freshman forward Brett Darnell in the penalty box for a tripping call.
Both teams came out with plenty of energy this time around, and it became apparent college hockey’s fiercest rivalry had returned to Munn Ice Arena.
Despite a scoreless first period, Krug led the charge for the Spartans, as he whistled several slap shots throughout the period at Wolverine goalie Shawn Hunwick. Each team had chances in a fast-paced period, but MSU held an early 10-7 edge in shots on goal.
However, the Wolverines broke the scoreless tie early in the second period on a goal by defenseman Mike Chiasson. With a two-on-one opportunity developing, forward Phil Di Giuseppe found Chiasson on sophomore goalie Will Yanakeff’s stick side and beat him with a shot over his shoulder at 4:28 to give U-M a 1-0 lead.
Close to six minutes later, forward Kevin Lynch doubled the Wolverine lead on a sweeping shot through Yanakeff’s legs to put U-M ahead, 2-0.
Sticking to a heavy diet of slap shots for Hunwick, Krug finally connected on one at 13:16. Krug took a pass from defenseman Brock Shelgren and fired a shot from the top of the circle to shrink the lead to 2-1.
When leading after two periods on the year, the Wolverines were 14-0-3 and not looking to break the trend any time soon.
But early in the third period, Krug beat Hunwick again, this time on a wrist shot to tie the game and give the Spartans a chance. With Di Giuseppe in the penalty box on a boarding call, sophomore forward Greg Wolfe found Krug, who sent a wrist shot from the right point to knot the game, 2-2.
Less than three minutes later, Krug picked up the assist on a goal by freshman forward Matt Berry to give the Spartans their first lead of the night. With the action funneling down close to the net, Berry’s shot beat Hunwick just in front of the crease to give MSU the go-ahead goal.
Senior forward Brett Perlini was sent to the box late in the third period on a two-minute elbowing call at 16:06, but the Spartans were able to stave off the U-M power play effort and seal the win on their home ice.
“Well, we’re obviously very pleased with the outcome tonight,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “We told the guys before the game that in all likelihood, it would be a close game, and we also told the guys there were gonna be periods where things were going well and where things weren’t going so well. So, we had to make sure we were prepared for that and preserve though that situation, which we did.”
The Spartans are now 6-1-1 this season against teams in the top-10 of the USCHO rankings. Looking for a sweep, the Spartans travel to Detroit Saturday for a 7:35 p.m. rematch against U-M at Joe Louis Arena.