EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan State Spartans rebounded from Thursday night’s loss to the Wayne State Warriors in predictable fashion: by taking their frustration out on Warriors sophomore goaltender Matt Kelly.
Spartan junior forward Mike Lalonde carried the hot stick as three of his shots found the back of the net, giving Lalonde the first hat trick of his career and the Spartans a 7-2 win.
Everything the Spartans didn’t do on Thursday night they did Friday. They charged the net, fought for loose pucks, and controlled play in the neutral zone. The difference was obvious, Warrior head coach Bill Wilkinson said.
“It was day and night between last night and tonight for Michigan State. They came out with a lot more intensity and purpose. They weren’t sitting on the outside, they were going hard to the net, and I think they got two or three goals just off that kind of play. We had a hard time boxing them out. They’re bigger and stronger than we were and certainly were by far a better team,” Wilkinson said.
Spartan junior forward Brock Radunske scored the first goal for the Spartans at 5:16 of the first period, as he deflected the puck into the top of the net and sent the water bottle flying.
Then, the Spartans scored the second goal of the night as well, an important aspect of the night’s game, Spartan head coach Rick Comley said.
“We scored first again, and then we got the second one, and then we had more jump and certainly more determination,” Comley said. “I thought there were several times in that game [Thursday night] we could have gone up by a couple and then I think we would have taken off last night, but in college hockey today, goalies can do it to you.”
Lalonde put his first of three tallies behind Kelly to put the Spartans up 2-0 when his shot went between Kelly’s right pad and the post.
Lalonde’s freshman linemate Tommy Goebel found the net as a result of a costly Warrior penalty before the period ended to give the Spartans the 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
The Spartans scored three times in the second to increase their lead to six, with two from Lalonde and one from his other linemate, captain Jim Slater.
They then looked to give junior goaltender Matt Migliaccio the shutout. The Warriors, however, wouldn’t hear of it.
Junior center Billy Collins scored on the Warriors’ third power play of the night to remove the zero from their side of the scoreboard.
The Warriors added a second goal less than a minute later off junior forward Nathan Rosychuk’s stick, while freshman forward Nate Higgins kept his point streak alive at four games by adding an assist.
Scoring in the third after being dominated in the first two periods was essential to team confidence, Wilkinson said.
“We said at the end of the second period that we needed to win one period, or at least play well, to come out of here with a little bit of confidence in ourselves.”
Kelly gave up one more goal to Radunske — his second of the night — before all was said and done, and the final horn blew with the scoreboard reading 7-2.
Before last weekend’s loss to Findlay on Sunday, Kelly hadn’t given up more than four goals in his career, but he permitted six to Findlay and seven on Friday night.
At the other end of the ice, it was Migliaccio’s first game since playing against Notre Dame on Saturday, November 8, a 3-3 tie.
Despite the large margin between the Spartans and the Warriors on Friday, Wilkinson said the series was a learning experience for the up-and-coming Warrior program.
“Its great competition for us, a learning experience, that will help us down the stretch. Anytime you play the type of team that Michigan State is, it’s got to be a great experience for our kids coming over here playing in front of six thousand hostile fans, so to speak.
“It just makes you a better team.”