EAST LANSING — If it wasn’t already clear this season, the Michigan hockey team can score goals.

Friday, the Wolverine offense exploded once again in a win over Michigan State (1-4-0 Big Ten, 5-14-2 overall) by a score of 9-2 at Munn Ice Arena.

“It’s obviously nice when you beat State,” said junior forward JT Compher. “The offense was going today, which it has been most of the year.”

It didn’t start out well for the Wolverines (3-1-1, 12-3-3), though.

The Spartans put the first point on the scoreboard 9:26 into the first period. Michigan State defenseman John Draeger found forward Mason Appleton alone inside the left faceoff circle and made the cross-ice pass. Appleton took the one-timer off the shot, which ricocheted off a skate past senior goaltender Steve Racine for the freshman’s fourth tally of the season.

But as Michigan has done many times already this season, the Wolverines came right back, pouncing on a Spartan mistake less than three minutes later. Compher collected the puck off a Michigan State miscue and put the puck upstairs past Spartan goaltender Jake Hildebrand.

“(Junior forward Tyler Motte) did a great job keeping the puck in,” Compher said. “I was able to have a two-on-one with (freshman forward Kyle Connor), and saw (Hildebrand) creeping a little bit and put it over his shoulder.”

The Wolverines weren’t done, though — not by a long shot.

Fifty-seven seconds after Compher’s goal, with Michigan State forward Ryan Keller in the box less than 10 seconds, Michigan scored again.

A tic-tac-toe play saw senior forwards Boo Nieves and Justin Selman pass the puck before sophomore forward Tony Calderone finished off the play, one-timing the puck past Hildebrand.

And just 18 seconds later, junior forward Alex Kile found himself alone just outside the left faceoff circle and hit twine.

After Michigan State came back with a power-play goal of its own, Michigan cruised. Freshman forward Kyle Connor tallied his team-leading 13th goal of the season, and sophomore forward Dexter Dancs added his own to close out the scoring in the first period. 

While the second featured much less scoring, Michigan tallied each goal.

On the power play, junior forward Alex Kile found a trailing sophomore defenseman Zach Werenski, who had returned two days prior from captaining the U.S Junior Team at the World Championships, wide open in the slot. Werenski gathered the puck and buried it past Hildebrand.

Another Michigan goal from Connor was all Michigan State coach Tom Anastos needed to see to pull Hildebrand, the 2015 Big Ten Player and Goaltender of the Year.

“You know you have to move (Hildebrand) side to side,” Compher said. “You have to try to beat him up top. You got to try get people to the net.”

Compher and Motte scored in the third period to round out the game’s scoring. Their line, which also includes Connor, finished the game with five goals and 13 points.

“JT and Tyler have played solid all year,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “And with this kid (Connor) on the left wing, he just adds another dimension. It’s been good. They’ve been moving the puck, they’re working hard and they’re leaders. They’re a big part of our team.”

In net, Racine continued his run of good play since coming back from injury, stopping 24 shots for his third straight win.

“(Racine’s) goals against are two a night,” Berenson said. “He’s made some good saves. Now, he’s only played three games in a row so I can’t tell you this is a trend, but good for him.”

It’s no surprise that Michigan can score goals. What the Wolverines have lacked, though, is consistency. After scoring seven and eight goals on Dartmouth and Minnesota, respectively, Michigan could muster just one and two goals the following nights.

So the real question for the Wolverines is: Can they do score another nine goals tomorrow night?

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