EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State moved one game closer to winning its CCHA first-round playoff series against Alaska-Fairbanks as the Spartans posted 11 goals during an 11-1 drubbing of UAF at Munn Ice Arena.
The 11-goal outburst is the best offensive production by MSU in the CCHA playoffs, Spartans coach Rick Comley made sure his team started focusing on Saturday’s Game 2.
“This doesn’t matter in playoff hockey,” Comley said of the lopsided result. “The next night is a whole new game. This time of year, it has to be one game at a time.”
For the first five minutes, it looked like the Spartans were in for a dogfight with the CCHA’s hottest team, but a 2:27 span in which MSU pumped in three goals ended any notion of a close contest.
“I thought they [UAF] played great for the first four or five minutes,” said Comley. “Matt [Migliaccio] made a couple of good saves, and we snuck a couple goals in that rattled their goalie a little bit.”
A tally by sophomore Brock Radunske at 6:32 of the first period marked the beginning of a three-goal blitz by the Spartans. Radunske wrapped around the UAF net and fired the puck from a bad angle just over Keith Bartusch’s glove giving MSU a 1-0 lead. The goal was Radunske’s first since a Jan. 1 contest vs. Miami.
Just 59 seconds later, at 7:39 of the first stanza, sophomore Kevin Estrada put the Spartans ahead 2-0 on a shot identical to Radunske’s. Again, Bartusch’s deficient glove hand was exposed as Estrada drilled it into the short side of the net from a bad angle.
The Spartans took a 3-0 lead when Radunske blistered a slap shot past Bartusch at 8:59 of the first. Initially, it looked as though Bartusch made the stop, but the puck found its way through his pads and into the net for the third time in a span of 2:27.
Down 3-0 with 11:01 still remaining in the first, the Nanooks brought in back-up netminder Lance Mayes. He did not fair much better than his counterpart as sophomore Ash Goldie slipped a well-placed slap shot past him at the 12:58 mark of the first giving MSU a 4-0 advantage. Goldie’s power-play marker was his sixth of the campaign and MSU’s eighth power-play goal in the last five games. All-America candidate John-Michael Liles extended his point streak to eight games with an assist on the Goldie tally.
Goldie said he loved his goal, but would love a win Saturday night as well.
“We wanted to get a win and we need to make it in a short series,” Goldie said. “[Saturday], we need to come out and play our game, and hopefully come out with the same results.”
Freshman Colton Fretter, who is coming off a three-point weekend against Western Michigan, continued his fine play at 15:10 of the first when he flipped a back-hander over Mayes’ right shoulder to give his team a gaudy 5-0 lead.
“When you get up 5-0 in the first period, it’s pretty tough for a team to come back.” Comley said.
The Nanooks finally got on the board early in the middle stanza. Center Scott Vockeroth took a feed from Corbin Schmidt and stuffed it past sophomore netminder Matt Migliaccio, cutting the MSU lead to 5-1 at 3:09.
MSU re-applied its five-goal stranglehold at 7:51 of the second when freshman David Booth found the back of the net for the 17th time this season. Booth’s goal came after he took a pass from Slater and blasted a slap shot from the middle of the left faceoff circle, making it a 6-1 affair.
Booth was the Spartans’ leading goal-scorer until Slater notched his 17th goal of the season at the 13:46 mark of the second. While on a 3-on-2 rush Mike Lalonde slung a pass across the crease and onto Slater’s stick where he buried the puck into an open net opening up a 7-1 lead. Also, assisting on the play was All-America candidate Brad Fast. The assist extended Fast’s point-streak to 12 games, while Slater moved into a tie with Fast for most multiple-point games with 13.
Only 35 seconds into the final period, Radunske completed his first career hat trick with a magnificent back-hander from short range putting his team ahead 8-1 with 19:25 still to play. Working from the behind the net again, Radunske skated to the front of the net with a burst of speed, until he finally hit the breaks and beat Mayes.
Radunske said after his second goal the thought of a hat trick crossed his mind, but he was more focused on what his team was doing.
“Obviously I think about it. I didn’t want to take any chances though,” Radunske said. “My roommate [Goldie] and I both had a pretty good night. Actually the team had a pretty good night. All of our lines came through with really balanced scoring.”
With the Spartans on the power play, Slater netted his second goal of the contest at 3:48 of the third. It put MSU ahead 9-1 and sent Mayes to the bench. The last time MSU team showed such offensive prowess was on Dec. 29, 1994, in a 9-4 victory vs. Cornell.
At 11:11 of the third, UAF’s third netminder, Preston McKay, got his first taste of the relentless Spartan offense when Goldie skated between the face-off circles and flicked the puck pas him for a 10-1 MSU lead. Goldie’s second score of the game marked the first time in his career he has achieved such a feat.
Sophomore Lee Falardeau capped the night when he netted the final score for the Spartans, ending the game with an 11-1 mark. The goal also marked the first time since a Dec. 6, 1991 MSU has scored 10 or more goals. In that game MSU defeated Ohio State 12-4. MSU’s effort from sophomore was over the top tonight with nine of the eleven goals coming from sophomores.
Radunske said he will take a win in any fashion, but is more expectant on a sweep of the series.
“We can enjoy it, but it doesn’t really matter if it’s 2-1 or 11-1,” remarked Radunske. “We need to expect the same results for tomorrow, and we have to be on top of our game.”
The teams meet in game two of the CCHA first round playoffs series Saturday with a 7:05 p.m. face-off at Munn Arena.