Correction: A story in Monday’s edition of the Daily (Icers tie Spartans in tough ‘battle’) incorrectly stated that Travis Turnbow had a short-handed chance in Saturday’s hockey game. The story should have said that Travis Turnbull created the short-handed opportunity.
For anyone who remembers last year’s late-season games between Michigan and Michigan State, the drama of Saturday night’s showdown between No. 1 Michigan and No. 10 Michigan State at Yost Ice Arena probably didn’t come as much of a surprise. The Wolverines tied the Spartans on consecutive nights last year, and after three grueling periods on Saturday, the two teams were deadlocked at three and headed toward another overtime game.
Michigan came out strong in the extra period, keeping the puck in Michigan State’s offensive zone for the majority of the period. Wolverines center T.J. Hensick was able to wiggle through a few Spartans defenders on two different occasions, but neither play resulted in a quality scoring chance. Despite outplaying the Spartans in the final five minutes, the Wolverines failed to find the net and the game ended in a 3-3 tie.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “We knew it would be. It was a battle.”
The biggest moment of the game came midway through the third period. With Michigan (4-0-1) defenseman Jack Johnson already serving a two-minute roughing penalty, fellow defenseman Tim Cook was called for checking from behind – resulting in a five-minute major penalty, a game misconduct and a two-man advantage for the Spartans. Michigan’s three-man penalty killing unit stepped up and killed off Johnson’s entire penalty. With the Spartans (2-0-1) still on the power play, Wolverines forwards Andrew Cogliano and Travis Turnbow used their speed to create a short-handed opportunity. The action in front of the Spartans’ net forced Michigan State to take a penalty to prevent Michigan from scoring, negating Michigan State’s power play.
“(The penalty kill) was huge,” Berenson said. “You go down two men and you lose a defenseman, but I thought our team did a good job minimizing the shots.”
Michigan got off to a sluggish start, which the players attributed to the emotion of parents’ night. The Wolverines found themselves in an early hole when Spartans forward Tim Kennedy stole the puck from Cook in front of the Wolverines’ net and beat Michigan goalie Billy Sauer four minutes into the game. The goal was Michigan State’s third quality scoring chance of the game. The Wolverines appeared to be a step slow to every loose puck.
Michigan got back into the game with seven minutes left in the first period. Wolverines’ forward Chad Kolarik floated a pass in on net from the right slot. Michigan State goaltender Dominic Vicari deflected the pass in front of the net where Ebbett was waiting. Ebbett treated the deflection like a pass and unleashed a wicked slapshot over Vicari’s left shoulder to tie the game at one. The goal was a huge boost to a Michigan team that had struggled throughout the first period. Despite being outshot 14-4, the Wolverines had found a way to stay in the game.
“We had the parents on the ice, and it was kind of a distraction I think, especially for the younger guys, so we had a sloppy 10 minutes,” Ebbett said. “(The goal) helped the team regroup, get back to level and play stronger after that.”
Michigan started the second period on the power play and quickly took advantage. After cycling the puck around the Spartans’ zone, Cogliano sent a pass across the blue line to defenseman Mark Mitera. He quickly sent a beautiful pass to the right slot, and forward Brandon Kaleniecki one-timed a shot past Vicari to give the Wolverines the lead.
The Spartans responded two minutes later when Jim McKenzie sent a pass to Tyler Howells at the left slot. Howells sent a shot over Sauer’s left shoulder to tie the game at two.
Michigan took advantage of another Michigan State penalty to regain the lead. Mitera slid the puck across the blue line to Cogliano, who fired a shot past a screened Vicari with 13 minutes remaining in the second period.
In the final minute of the period, Michigan State forward Tim Crowder sent a pass on net that ended up sneaking through Sauer’s legs to knot the game at three.
In the third period, both goaltenders made great stops with the game on the line. Vicari displayed his ability to rise to the occasion in big games last year, but Sauer proved he could do the same in his first game between the pipes in this heated rivalry. Late in the third period, Michigan State sent the puck into the Michigan zone. The puck took a strange carom and wound up popping over Sauer’s shoulder in front of the net. Sauer made sure not to knock the puck into his own goal, and then put himself in position to make a crucial save to keep the game tied. Later in the third, Michigan State had another point blank chance, and again, Sauer made the stop.
“I knew he wasn’t going to score,” Sauer said. “I could see him line up the whole way, and all I had to do was get in front of him.”
Michigan will be on the road for the first time this season when it makes the trek up north to take on No. 19 Alaska-Fairbanks this weekend.