DETROIT –– The bad blood between the rivals rears its head nearly every time Michigan and Michigan State compete.
The opening minutes of Monday’s game, for third place in the Great Lakes Invitational, though, were atypical of the in-state rivals –– looking more like the consolation game that it really was rather than a classic matchup.
Both teams were quick to remind each other of the hatred between the two programs.
And though the game ultimately ended in a 2-2 tie after playing an overtime period, the animosity was made evident with every hit, penalty and punch delivered on the afternoon.
Earlier on, the opening minutes of Monday’s game had been relatively uneventful.
Through the first six minutes, Michigan State (6-10-2 overall, 2-5-1 Big Ten) kept the puck in their offensive zone for the most part –– dumping and chasing but not getting many shots on goal. The Wolverines’ offense was finally ignited by a power play just over six minutes into the period ––getting the Michigan hockey team (6-7-6, 2-4-4-2) on its way to the 23 shots they recorded in the first frame.
Then, play was interrupted for several minutes with 6:43 remaining in the period when a Spartan skater collided with junior goaltender Hayden Lavigne in the crease. Senior defenseman Joseph Cecconi took exception to the collision and an all-out line brawl ensued.
Junior forward Nick Pastujov, senior defenseman Nick Boka, Lavigne and Cecconi were all given 10-minute misconducts. The end result was a two-minute power play for Michigan State.
And on that power play, the Spartans opened up scoring.
A pass from forward Sam Saliba came from behind the net –– moving Lavigne left to right. It found a streaking forward Wojciech Stachowiak in the slot who fired past Lavigne’s left side to give Michigan State a 1-0 lead.
The Wolverines answered three minutes later.
Sophomore forward Josh Becker wrapped around the net and passed across the front of the crease to sophomore forward Luke Morgan. Morgan –– who was set up in front of the crease, just to the left of goaltender Drew DeRidder –– finished on the feed from Becker to tie the game, 1-1.
Michigan continued to get shots on goal, moving the puck well on offense. That offensive flow was interrupted by a penalty call on sophomore Dakota Raabe and sent the Spartans back to the power play. A tripping call on senior forward Brendan Warren less than a minute in made it a 5-on-3 advantage for Michigan State. And 19 seconds into the two-man advantage, the Spartans regained the lead, 2-1.
Michigan State’s power play was working well for them in the first period. Luckily for the Wolverines, that trend did not continue.
Despite Michigan taking three penalties in the second period, the Spartans failed to convert on any of those opportunities. The Wolverine power play, similarly, could not find the back of the net.
With under four minutes remaining in the period, defenseman Jerad Rosburg sprinted towards the corner of the rink with his sights set on junior forward Jake Slaker. Rosburg collided with Slaker, delivering a blow to his head that resulted in a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for Rosburg.
“I think, as you can tell, with all the penalties and the scrum, both teams were looking to just kind of kill each other,” Pastujov said. “I think it’s finally gotten to the point where the rivalry has like really kicked into gear. We hate them just as much as they hate us. It’s kind of nice to see that intensity.”
Michigan had a prime opportunity to tie the game at the end of the second period after the five-minute penalty on Michigan State was followed by a two-minute minor for hooking. It gave the Wolverines a two-man advantage to close out the period. The Spartan’s penalty kill was stingy, though, as they cleared the puck multiple times and prevented Michigan from evening the score going into the second intermission.
Over a minute still remained on the power play from the major penalty as play resumed in the third period. And with seven seconds remaining on the man-advantage, Becker fed a pass from the top of the crease across to Pastujov who tied the game, 2-2.
Minutes into the third period, the Wolverines found themselves in the same spot as yesterday –– tied at two goals in the third period.
Neither team would give up an edge, throwing bodies in front of shots and scrapping for every loose puck in the period. With the game remaining tied at two, Michigan went into its seventh overtime in the past nine games.
And that was where it would stay. Due to the time constraints created by the tripleheader event at Little Caeser’s Arena, there was no shootout to decide a winner.
“We just can’t find a way to generate much offense,” said Michigan coach Mel Pearson. “We have to play the perfect game, and, obviously, we haven’t gotten there yet. I don’t know if we ever will, but we look forward to regrouping and getting ready for the outdoor game at Notre Dame.”