Until the last second of sudden-death overtime, it looked like the annual Duel in the D matchup between No. 15 Michigan State and No. 5 Michigan could go into the record book as a tie. Wolverine sophomore defenseman Luke Hughes had other plans, netting the game-winner with 0.7 on the clock. The Spartans fell in a 4-3 heartbreaker.
While Friday night’s game saw its fair share of in-state rivalry tussles and brawls, the season finale rematch at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit was rather civil, with 13 total penalties compared to 28 the night before.
After getting disqualified from Friday’s game for fighting, junior defenseman Nash Nienhuis and Michigan freshman forward Adam Fantilli did not play in Saturday’s rematch.
Sophomore forward Jesse Tucker moved into the lineup for the Spartans as an extra skater. The Wolverines shuffled their forwards around as well, with freshman forward T.J. Hughes replacing Fantilli in the first line.
The first penalties of the night came at the 6:33 mark when senior forward Jagger Joshua and freshman forward Kienan Draper were sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. Just over two minutes later, Michigan State earned the first power play when Hughes was whistled for holding.
MSU and U-M had some good looks in the beginning of the first period, but both teams remained scoreless until the 15:47 mark when Hughes scored on a Wolverine power play after freshman forward Karsen Dorwart sat for roughing.
Michigan State answered three minutes later when captain and senior forward Miroslav Mucha rebounded the puck on the right side of the net to tie it 1-1 before the rivals headed into the locker room for first intermission.
The second period started with 4-on-4 skating as fifth-year defenseman Cole Krygier was serving the remaining time on his high sticking minor from the first period, while freshman forward Jackson Hallum went to the box for slashing.
The first half of the second period was rather uneventful, until junior forward Jeremy Davidson snuck one past Michigan junior goaltender Erik Portillio on a power play caused by sophomore forward Mackie Samoskevich who picked up a holding the stick minor.
Sophomore forward Dylan Duke responded 30 seconds later with a shot from out in front of the net to tie it back up at 2-2.
After making his Wolverine debut on Friday, freshman forward Frank Nazar III earned his first collegiate goal to put Michigan back on top 3-2 at the 9:33 mark of the second.
For the second night in a row, the story of the second period was penalties. At 17:11, Michigan was caught with too many men, handing MSU another opportunity on the man advantage. 40 seconds later, Jagger was assessed a 10-minute misconduct for abuse of officials. The final penalty of the frame was given to sophomore defenseman Ethan Edwards for slashing, so Michigan State skated 5-on-3 with 1:04 left.
The Spartans outshot the Wolverines 11-6 in the second period after Michigan controlled the statistic in the first twenty minutes.
Portillo started the third period with some superb goaltending, including two back-to-back shots from freshman forward Daniel Russell. The 6-foot-6-inch, Sweden native came way out of his net to cover the puck for the Wolverines.
At 8:02 in the third, sophomore defenseman David Gucciardi was whistled on a tripping call, sending the Spartan penalty kill unit back out on the ice. The Wolverines pressured graduate student goaltender Dylan St. Cyr with five consecutive shots, but they were unable to find the back of the net.
The Spartans were desperately searching for the equalizer with just over five minutes to play. Graduate student defenseman Michael Underwood found it with 4:55 left, his first goal of the season.
After that, the archenemies put up a combined 10 attempts at the game-winner, but were unsuccessful.
Still tied 3-3 at the end of regulation, both teams entered a five minute, 3-on-3, sudden-death overtime period. Duke was whistled for tripping at 2:14, handing the Spartans a 4-on-3 power play.
Both teams fought tooth and nail in the waning minutes of overtime, mustering all their strength to keep the opponent from scoring the game-winner. Michigan fired four shots on net after Duke entered the box, the last being Hughes' game-winner.
The Spartans will hit the road next weekend for their final series of the regular season against Wisconsin on Friday at 9 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m.