Less than 2 minutes away from sweeping No. 1 U-M, a fluke goal tied the game for the Wolverines
A shutout and a tie.
The two polar opposites happened in a dramatic weekend series against No. 1 Michigan.
The MSU hockey team blanked the Wolverines Friday at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor. The last time U-M was shut out at home was Feb. 28, 2003, and the Spartans were to blame.
Less than two minutes away from another victory on Saturday, MSU succumbed to a 2-2 tie game at Munn Ice Arena — a heartbreaking, adrenaline-pumping, white-knuckled defeat.
As the team gears up for the remaining 10 games of the season, the Spartans are battling for the CCHA league title, something they have yet to win.
Nearly two weeks ago in South Bend, Ind., MSU was ready to leave Notre Dame with a 1-0 victory. But a late third-period goal by Notre Dame’s Ryan Thang at 19:22 snagged the win from the Spartans and forced an overtime — resulting in a 1-1 tie.
Saturday’s game at Munn proved to be a repeat as MSU was about two minutes away from sweeping the top team in the nation, U-M. The Wolverines’ Matt Rust scored the tying goal, which appeared to cross the line after hitting junior forward Matt Schepke’s glove.
Rust’s goal broke MSU’s lengthy penalty killing streak of 32 consecutive kills.
“We’re real disappointed,” junior goaltender Jeff Lerg said. “We gave one against Notre Dame, but we kind of shrugged that off and said that’s OK. But I mean, now, we felt we played our game for the whole game. We came out with a lot of intensity. I felt we deserved to win.
“To throw it away like that was just disappointing. ... We were 1:38 away from putting ourselves in the driver’s seat again.”
Losing a victory just seconds from the end of a game is frustrating but it’s not just one player’s fault, Lerg added.
“It’s not the first time anyone’s scored on their own net before,” he said. “You never know, (Schepke) could have the game winner against Michigan next time.”
“It’s a matter of interpretation”
The Spartans had an almost-goal that hit the post in the third period. The play went under review and referees determined the puck had not crossed the line.
A few minutes later, the Wolverines picked up their tying goal. MSU head coach Rick Comley vehemently protested, saying sophomore defenseman Michael Ratchuk had been cross-checked from behind and a penalty should have been called.
U-M head coach Red Berenson said it’s all about how officials perceive play.
“It’s disappointing the way the penalties were called,” Berenson said. “It’s pretty vague. What’s a penalty and what’s not a penalty is a matter of interpretation.”