When Michigan State’s captain and senior goaltender Jeff Lerg gets pulled from the game late in the third period, it doesn’t bode well for the Spartans.
But another disheartening loss for Michigan State was just the game the No. 14 Michigan hockey team needed.
The Wolverines (10-7-0 overall, 6-5-0 CCHA) beat up on their in-state rival, 6-1, at Yost Ice Arena tonight, chasing Lerg after five goals.
After a weak first period, the Michigan offense took over the game, scoring six unanswered goals in dominating fashion.
Junior acting-captain Chris Summers scored the Wolverines’ first goal on a one-time play from sophomore Matt Rust. Summers stole the puck at center ice and passed it to Rust at the red line while shorthanded. The duo combined for a 2-on-0 breakaway, and Summers put the puck behind Spartan goaltender Jeff Lerg’s glove side.
The scoring didn’t stop there in perhaps the Wolverines’ most emotional period this year. Tensions were clearly high between the two teams as scuffles broke out often.
Michigan continued piling on the goals when freshman David Wohlberg tallied his seventh goal of the year. The forward scored on a one-timer from sophomore Louie Caporusso on a blown play by the Spartan defense. No one covered Wohlberg who set up for a shot right in front of Lerg.
The Spartan goalie didn’t help matters, he was too far out of position that he couldn’t stop the weak shot from Wohlberg that slid into the net.
Michigan’s Aaron Palushaj added an exclamation point to the period that ignited the Yost crowd into a frenzy.
After a pass by Caporusso was deflected in front of Lerg, the puck floated into the right side of the crease. Palushaj launched an easy shot into the upper part of the net that nearly blew the rafters off of Yost.
Michigan played somewhat conservatively in the third period just killing off the clock and was unable to convert on a 5-on-3 for 1:24.
But Wohlberg added another goal, his eight of the season, all eight coming in the last ten games. The freshman got another rebound goal on Lerg who was once again out of position.
Senior Brandon Naurato tallied the final goal on Lerg and Michigan’s final goal for the night.
The goal pretty much sealed the game and further frustrated Lerg, who didn’t have his best showing as in the past. The Spartan goalie gave up two goals on bad positioning and his defense didn’t help on the others, failing to clear the puck and giving the Wolverines prolonged opportunities.
The only thing that halted Michigan’s relentless offensive attack once it started was penalties. Near the end of the second frame, junior Brian Lebler picked up his second straight game misconduct penalty after hitting a Spartan into the boards that gave Michigan State (4-10-3, 2-7-2-2) a five-minute major heading into the third period.
In a first period that was physical to say the least, Michigan State drew first blood. After a turnover at mid-ice by sophomore Tristin Llewellyn, the Spartans’ Matt Schepke capitalized on a 2-on-1, placing a wrist shot behind Hogan on his lower stick side.
Once again the Wolverines didn’t generate many scoring opportunities.
The story of the period was the number of game misconducts handed out by the referees. After Caporusso was taken down five minutes into the game all ten skaters on the ice got into some sort of a brawl against another Spartan or Wolverine.
One Michigan State player was given a game misconduct and two roughing after the whistle penalties were doled out to each team.
It was evident there was bad blood between the teams throughout the game. After most stoppages in play Michigan and Michigan State got into a tussle around the net.