The game started off in a very spirited fashion as very few whistles occurred and the Spartans really threw their body around trying to play physical and winning all the little battles. The game remained scoreless though as Will Yanakeff and Shawn Hunwick started off very well stopping every shot theya faced. Michigan State held a 10-8 edge in those shots during the period.
The second period started off in a similar manner, but a turnover led to a Michigan chance that put the Wolverines up 1-0. The Spartans clearly looked like they were on their heels until Michigan took a too many men on the ice penalty - while they controlled the puck in the offensive zone - and that seemed to slow down the Michigan attack for a short while. They weren't down for long though as one of the few loose puck battles Michigan won eventually ended up in the back of the Spartan net and just like that Michigan held a 2-0 edge.
That's when Torey Krug decided to take his game to the next level. Already playing a very effective game, he let a laser go from the point that found its way past Hunwick to put the Spartans on the board and brought the crowd back into the game. Shots were even in the second period at 13, as both goaltenders continued to show brilliant play. Hunwick stood "tall" (it's all relative) as the Spartans sent bodies towards the net, and Yanakeff kept MSU in the game - including stopping a breakaway when the game was still 1-0.
In the third period, the Spartans power play got going. Michigan took a couple of bad penalties early on in this period, as Michigan State rode Krug and the momentum to regain the lead. The first goal happened just 1:26 into the final period, as Hunwick seemed to be fooled (or maybe expecting a deflection) on what appeared to be a harmless wrist shot at the net. Under three minutes later, the Spartans scored another power play goal on a beautiful play by Torey Krug. He received the puck at the point, and with the Michigan defense collapsed in front of the net, he skated around the defense - drew the attention - and they left Matt Berry wide open on the side of the crease - Krug found him with a great pass through the air that Berry slammed home to send the Munn crowd into a frenzy.
Michigan State's defense and Will Yanakeff stood tall the rest of the way stopping all nine shots Michigan threw at the net, including a late power play with around four minutes to go in regulation. Shots turned out to be even for the game at 30. Krug, Berry, and Yanakeff earned the three stars (in that order 1-2-3), and I would agree. Both Krug and Berry were all of the place, though Berry did take a couple of penalties late in the first period on that probably didn't make the coach too happy.
In the end though, he and Krug were all over the place tonight. It may have been Torey Krug's best game as a Spartan. It certainly was Berry's (though he has a smaller sample size at this point).
What might be more amazing is that with the victory, Michigan State has now pulled into a tie for third place with Michigan at 38 points. Even with the LSSU-Alaska still to go, MSU will be in a tie for third place in the morning (LSSU can tie Michigan State & Michigan). That makes tomorrow night's game at the Joe just as important. Playoff positioning could come down to tiebreakers, so season series are going to be important. Right now the season series between these two teams (for purposes of the league tiebreaker) is 1-1-1. Also, being in a tie for third place right now means MSU would be in position for a bye.
Also (as of right now), MSU moves up to a tie for 11th in the PairWise rankings......
Though MSU still has a very tough finish to their CCHA schedule with Alaska & Notre Dame still to come.
In The End - MSU Took Advantage
This didn't look like the same Michigan team that was here back in December. Michigan State really won most of the battles for the puck, outworked the Wolverines in most areas, and finally took advantage of the mistakes Michigan was making. Michigan had more than a few bad turnovers in the first period, but Hunwick really kept Michigan in this game early on. It looked like for a moment that Michigan might escape Munn with a win, but the Spartans slowly regained their composure, and they finally took advantage of the mistakes Michigan was making. And it was the captain that sparked it all.
Saturday's game will be on FS Detroit at 7:35 pm when the two teams meet for their annual Joe Louis Arena game. Michigan will be the home team for the game.