ANN ARBOR, MI - Michigan State hockey came back from a two-goal deficit in the second to pull out a 4-3 win at Yost Arena against rival University of Michigan Thursday night.
MSU went 1 for 2 on the powerplay, while the Spartan defense held the Wolverines at 0 for 3 in the powerplay. MSU put 34 shots on goal, scoring twice in both the second and third periods.
“Our team so far this year has shown a ton of resiliency and I hope its going to stay up all year," Senior forward Logan Lambdin said. “We are going to be a tough team to play against if we keep playing like this.”
The first period was not very exciting considering the build up to this rivalry game. Neither team seemed to be able to get control of the puck, struggling with sloppy passing and turnovers.
Freshman center Josh Nodler put one of the only close shots on goal for the Spartans that just flew over the Wolverine net.
It wasn’t until the very end that the Wolverines picked up the pace. With 26 seconds left, sophomore Nick Blankenburg put a shot past Michigan State goaltender John Lethemon that put the Wolverines ahead 1-0 going into the first intermission.
After a surprisingly penalty-less first period, the game got chippy just minutes into the second. Twin defensemen Cole and Christian Krygier saw the penalty box together with Michigan’s Jake Slaker to make for a five-on-four Wolverine powerplay that they failed to capitalize on.
At 4:36, Michigan sophomore Garrett Van Wyhe committed a kneeing penalty that gave the Spartans their first powerplay of the game. Although MSU failed to capitalize in the two minutes, they did put the most pressure on Michigan’s defense.
Seconds after Michigan returned back to full strength, Lethemon lost the puck right in front of the net, making for an easy and wide open shot by Van Whye to give the Wolverines a 2-0 lead.
One minute later, senior Butrus Ghafari put a far shot past Michigan’s goaltender Strauss Mann, putting the Spartans on the board and giving Ghafari his first goal of the season.
Michigan came back though, regaining their two-goal lead after a shot by freshman Johnny Beecher flew over the helmet of Lethemon.
With just under a minute left, senior center Patrick Khodorenko picked up the puck from behind the net and shot it in from the corner, putting the Spartans down by just one going into the third.
“It (the puck) ended up popping off far enough that I could get an angle just into the net and the goalie left a little hole under his elbow so I was able to sneak it through,” Khodorenko said.
A fired up Khodorenko came back in the third with another goal to tie the game up. Khodorenko stole a pass from the Wolverines, bringing it up the ice, shooting and missing, before getting the rebound and putting it back through the net to tie the game up at 3-3.
“Patty’s (Khodorenko's) line really got us going," Head coach Danton Cole said. "In the third we were skating and making plays. The games easier that way and defensively its easier too. We gave up way too much the first two periods."
Later in the period, Lambdin capitalized in the final seconds of a Spartan power play with an assist for Nodler to give the Spartans their first lead of the game at 4-3.
“When you score a game winner at Yost its always a special feeling," Lambdin said, adding that this goal was "up there" with his best in his career.
“It was a great play...Logan’s given us some good minutes,” Cole said. “One thing I’ve really wanted for the seniors and our guys have done it very well these last couple years, I wanted them to keep getting better.”
In the final minutes, the Wolverines saw their last chance to make a comeback in a power play. With 19 seconds left in the Wolverine advantage, Michigan pulled their goaltender to give them a two-man advantage that they still failed to capitalize on.
The Spartans took the game 4-3 and will go back home to face off against the Wolverines at Munn on Saturday. Splitting 3 of their 4 series this season, MSU hopes to sweep their rival on Saturday.
“We know their going to come out fast," Khodorenko said about Saturday's game. "Their going to be a little angry, and I would be if I lost at home so their going to be playing hard we just got to be ready for that.”