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Spartans get two points with shootout win

January 16, 2010

Right winger Corey Tropp celebrates the goal that tied the game among Notre Dame players at the net late in the third period of Saturday’s game at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans beat the Fighting Irish in a shootout after tying the game 4-4.

Photo by Angeli Wright | The State News

The No. 7 MSU hockey team still hasn’t beaten Notre Dame in eight-straight meetings.

But Saturday’s game sure felt like a victory when the Spartans skated off the ice at Munn Ice Arena.

For the first time in four attempts this season, the Spartans posted a shootout victory, earning a valuable two points in the conference standings after playing the Irish to a 4-4 tie through regulation.

The Spartans almost suffered through déjà vu Saturday night. On Friday, MSU took a 2-0 lead at Notre Dame but watched the Irish score five unanswered goals to earn a 5-2 victory.

Saturday night, MSU jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the second period before the Irish scored four straight goals.

MSU freshman forward Derek Grant scored the game-tying goal at 17:39 of the third period to force overtime and the Spartans then capitalized with one successful shot in the shootout combined with three consecutive stops by senior goaltender Bobby Jarosz.

Despite the Spartans’ sloppy play that allowed Notre Dame back into the game, MSU head coach Rick Comley was impressed with his team’s ability to fight back and avoid another heartbreaking loss.

“I’m thrilled with the extra point,” Comley said. “Winning a shootout is big emotionally to begin with. Confidence wise, this was really good. You know how it is with shootouts. We know they are a tie nationally, but everybody that leaves here thinks it’s a win or a loss. So far we have three losses, tonight we got a win.”

Jarosz started between the pipes for MSU, stopping 28 shots and denying all three Notre Dame shooters in his first career shootout – a feat sophomore goaltender Drew Palmisano has been unable to accomplish this season.

“It says a lot to the character of our team,” Jarosz said of the shootout victory. “It’s really disappointing giving up four straight goals and blowing a lead to a team like this. But it says a lot that we could come back and stick through it and get a big goal at the end of the game like that.”

After missing last night’s game due to a disqualification penalty he received last weekend, senior forward and co-captain Nick Sucharski scored the game’s first goal at 1:06 of the first period. Sophomore forward Daultan Leveille tacked on another goal at 16:42 of the opening frame and sophomore forward Brett Perlini notched a goal at 4:30 of the second period to give the Spartans a 3-0 lead.

Then it was all Notre Dame.

The Irish tacked on goals at 12:42 and 18:12 of the second period and came out of the gates flying in the third, needing only 37 seconds to tie the game. Notre Dame’s Ryan Thang put the Irish on top, 4-3, at 4:51 of the third period with his fourth goal of the series.

Despite the Fighting Irish’s momentum for most of the third period, a Notre Dame roughing penalty with about three minutes remaining put the Spartans on the power play. Grant capitalized by burying the game-tying goal, sending the dormant crowd into a frenzy.

Grant called the goal “the biggest of his career as a Spartan.”

“It was a point shot from (junior defenseman Jeff) Petry and it got to the net and (junior forward Corey) Tropp had it and I thought he was going to stuff it in,” Grant said. “I think the goalie poke checked it and it came through a guy’s legs right to me. I just tried to throw it on net. It took a couple bounces but found its way in. I was pretty happy.”

The Spartans (15-7-4 overall, 10-4-4 CCHA) are now 0-5-3 against in the Irish in the last eight meetings between the two teams.

But instead of leaving the rink knowing they let another big lead fizzle away, the Spartans left Munn Ice Arena with two hard-fought points.

“You always want to get the split after losing the first one,” Grant said. “After giving up those four goals, we will take the two points. Three points would have been nice, but coming back like that showed a lot of character.”

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