Better late than never. These Spartans are starting to have a flair for the dramatic.
Trailing 1-0 in the first period, a waived off Nanooks goal in the first period seemed to spark the Spartans - just in time. Brent Darnell tallied a pair of first period goals to give Michigan State a 2-1 lead after 1. His first goal came on the power play off a Jake Chelios shot from the point - it rebounded on the back boards - Joe Louis Arena style, and he lifted a backhand into the open net. J. Chelios and Merrifield were given assists on the play.
It didn't take long for MSU to grab the lead either as Torey Krug found Darnell again in front of the net just 35 seconds later to give Michigan State the lead. The Spartans out-shot Alaska 6-5 in the opening period.
The Nanooks didn't give up though, they fought hard through a tough second period, and they managed to tally a power play goal of their own with just inside seven minute to go in the period to tie the game up. Michigan State had quite a few chances over the first half of the period, but they couldn't find the back of the net. Shots in the middle frame were 13-12 in favor of MSU.
The third period was clearly the best for Michigan State. They had numerous chances right in front of the goal, but failed to get the puck past Greenham who played very well over the course of the entire game. The third period saw Michigan State kill off a 5 on 3 and a penalty inside of 4 minutes to go in regulation to keep the game tied at two. Shots in the final period were even at 9.
In overtime, the Spartans dominated the play, and Brett Perlini stole an errant clearing attempt and buried it past a sprawling Greenham to give Michigan State a huge three points on the night. MSU out-shot Alaska 5-1 in the overtime period and 33-27 for the game.
Ferris State, Western Michigan, Miami, and Michigan all won tonight. So, Michigan State has passed Ohio State and broken the tie with LSSU (thanks to Western's win) to move into sole possession of 4th place. That's huge, since it's the final home ice advantage spot in the quarterfinal round.
So now the CCHA Standings look like this:
1. Ferris 50 pts (3 games left)
2. Western 45 pts (3 games left)
3. Michigan 44 pts (3 games left)
4. Mich. St. 41 pts (3 games left)
5. Miami 39 pts (3 games left)
6. OSU 39 pts (2 games left)
7. LSSU 38 pts (3 games left)
8. UND 36 pts (3 games left)
9. NMU 36 pts (3 games left)
10. Alaska 30 pts (1 game left)
11. BGSU 19 pts (3 games left)
We'll have to run through all the potential play-off scenarios tomorrow, but right now Michigan State controls their own destiny for home ice advantage and a first round bye. Win out - and we will be back in East Lansing on March 9th. Ferris State has clinched home ice advantage in the CCHA quarterfinals & a first round bye. Ferris can clinch the outright CCHA title tomorrow night with a three point victory, Michigan earning no more than two points against Northern tomorrow, and Western earning no more than one point tomorrow against LSSU. They can also clinch it out right if they earn a shoot-out win, Western loses in regulation or OT, and Michigan loses in any fashion tomorrow. Basically, it's Ferris State's to lose still.
With the victory, Michigan State currently sits in 10th place in the PairWise rankings. That will change tonight as some of the other games go final.
Tonight's game marked the third straight MSU-Alaska game that has gone into overtime. Alaska swept MSU in the CCHA Tournament opening round last March with a pair of overtime victories (the second one happening in double overtime).
Tomorrow night is senior night - with the senior night activities happening at 7:30 pm. Face-off is at 8:05 pm, and the game can be seen on FS Detroit as part of their hockey day in Michigan coverage.