The final meeting between the MSU hockey team and the University of Michigan at the Joe Louis Arena was one to remember.
On a night filled with sorrow and grief over the passing of Detroit pizza and sports mogul Mike Ilitch, the Wolverines defeated the Spartans in a shootout, and took the “Iron D” Trophy.
Trailing 4-3 with 4:58 left in regulation, freshman forward Sam Saliba scored his second goal of the night, which tied the game at four.
After Villiam Haag gained possession of the puck along the right side of the ice, his pass found the stick of Sailba. Saliba’s one-timer in the slot managed to find the back of the net, tying the game at four.
The third period concluded, tied 4-4, and both teams went into overtime.
Following the horn being blown to mark the end of the regulation, redshirt senior defenseman Rhett Holland and U-M’s Jake Slaker got into a scuffle, and it resulted in both players being sent to the penalty box to begin the overtime period, but both teams were unable to score on the 4-on-4.
The five-minute overtime period elapsed, and the game officially ended in a tie, but both teams went into a shootout for an extra point in Big Ten standings with the Wolverines ultimately prevailing.
Junior goaltender Ed Minney, who was benched after the first period in the Spartans’ 6-3 loss last Friday and didn’t get the start in the second game of the series the following day, was benched again after the first 20 minutes for freshman John Lethemon.
The freshman netminder recorded 22 saves in the tie.
Saliba recorded two goals in the tied, and Taro Hirose registered a goal and assist.
The Spartans started the game with an emphatic start.
Thirty six seconds into the opening period, sophomore forward Mason Appleton made a backhand pass from behind the Wolverine goal line to freshman Taro Hirose. Hirose — at the left circle — gave MSU an early lead as his one-time slapshot snuck by Wolverine goaltender Hayden Lavigne.
5:20 into the first period, the Spartans were on their first man-advantage of the game as Cutler Martin was charged with roughing. Twenty seconds later, the Wolverines added another player to the penalty box. Freshman defenseman Luke Martin was called for hooking, and gave MSU a 5-on-3 advantage
The Spartans capitalized on the power play 1:06 later.
Hirose — near the blue line — fed a pass to Appleton at the left circle. The 6-foot-2 forward proceeded to record his second assist of the night as his pass to freshman forward Sam Saliba in front of the net led to a goal, extending the Spartans lead to two with 13:10 remaining in the first frame.
The Wolverines, however, responded to the Spartans two-straight goals to open the game.
A no-look pass in the Wolverine zone by U-M forward Brendan Warren off the boards found the stick of forward Will Lockwood. Lockwood skated to the neutral zone where he would take a hit by MSU’s Jerad Rosburg and lose the puck.
U-M freshman forward Jake Slaker gained possession of the puck and skated to the left circle. His shot would then be saved by Ed Minney, but Slaker picked the puck back up behind the net to take a shot.
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Losing control of the puck, Slaker’s shot managed to bounce off the pads of Minney and sneak into the net to cut the Spartans’ lead to one with 5:06 left in the first period.
The Wolverines then scored again late in the first period to tie the game at two.
With 28 seconds left in the opening frame, senior forward Thomas Ebbing turned the puck over after a failed attempt to Zach Osburn behind the net. The turnover led to a shot that was initially blocked by Minney, but U-M’s Max Shuart was able to score on the second chance.
The Spartans went into the locker room following the conclusion of the first period leading in shots on goal with nine to U-M’s seven.
Midway through the second period, the Spartans regained the lead.
9:14 into the second frame, a pass from Brennan Sanford found the stick of Connor Wood in the slot. Wood took a shot on net, but it was saved by Lavigne and bounced off the boards. Freshman defenseman Damian Chrcek skated to the puck, and instantly took a shot on goal.
Senior forward Chris Knudson gained control of the puck after Chreck’sshot, and got the puck by Lavinge for his second goal of the season.
The Wolverines tied the game with 5:34 remaining in the period on a power play opportunity after Villiam Haag was called for interference, but the goal was waved off after further review.
At the right point, U-M’s Sam Piazza passed to Slaker, who entered Friday the Wolverines’ leader in points with 18. Slaker’s shot was deflected by Dexter Dancs in front of the net for a goal.
As it seemed Dancs tied the game at three, after review of the play, it was waved off upon conclusion Dancs deflected the shot due to a high stick.
Just over a minute and a half later, the Wolverines responded to the no-goal with an actual goal on the man-advantage.
Defenseman Luke Martin — at the blue line — fed Nolan De Jong at the right circle. De Jong’s wristshot sailed past Lethemon tying the game at three.
Neither team could break the tie, so the score was tied, 3-3, after the completion of the second period. The Spartans struggled in the shots department as they were only able to generate a mere three shots on goal in the second period to the Wolverines 10 shots.
The Wolverines proceeded to take their first lead of the game 2:40 into the final period as De Jong scored his second goal of the night.
As sophomore defenseman set up De Jong with a pass from the right circle, De Jong’s wristshot near the slot got by Lethemon, and gave the Wolverines a 4-3 with 17:20 left in the game.
With 9:51 remaining in the game, both teams were short a skater after Hirose seemed to skate toward U-M’s goalie Lavigne, and the freshman goaltender appeared to trip Hirose. As a result, Hirose was called for embellishment, and Lavinge was notched for interference with junior forward Tony Calderone serving the penalty.
Neither team scored on the 4-on-4 chance, so the Wolverines remained in the lead, 4-3, and eventually defeated the Spartans in a shootout.
The Spartans next game is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. as they wrap up a two-game series with the Wolverines at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor. The game can be streamed on BTN Plus.
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