EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan discovered that junior forward Mike Lalonde of Michigan State is still carrying a hot stick, despite his team’s 2-0 loss in Ann Arbor last night.
Lalonde’s game-winning goal and stellar play from freshman goaltender Dominic Vicari helped the Spartans snap their three-game losing streak with a 2-0 reversal at Munn Ice Arena against their favorite rival.
Home ice was definitely better for both teams, even though on paper, there were few differences between the two games, with the exception of the winning team. The Wolverines outshot the Spartans, 29-17, and if Vicari wouldn’t have been behind the Spartan defense, the game might have taken a different tilt.
In the first, Wolverine goaltender Al Montoya tried to clear the puck from the zone with the Spartans on the power-play, and defenseman Corey Potter stopped the puck from getting out of the zone, then threw it at the net, and Lalonde grabbed the rebound and had a mostly open net, with Montoya sprawling across the crease. That would prove to be the only goal Vicari would need.
The second period was scoreless, with plenty of chances for both teams to change the scoreboard, especially late in the period when Michigan’s T.J. Hensick capitalized on a bad change by the Spartans and came into the zone all alone, but Vicari made a save he shouldn’t have been able to physically make.
In the third, another costly Wolverine turnover in their zone led to another Spartan goal, this time off the stick of sophomore David Booth, who sat out eight straight games before returning last night in Ann Arbor. The defense coughed up the puck and it landed on Booth’s stick between the face-off circles, and his shot trickled through Montoya’s arm and side to give the Spartans the 2-0 lead.
“Well obviously last night we didn’t get a lot. We got one goal five-one-five, and it was hard to come by, and obviously goals were hard to come by tonight,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson.
“We may have had a couple of isolated better chances tonight than we had last night, but both these goalies are great goalies. I thought they played a stronger game; they started winning the big faceoffs that could have cost us, but we just couldn’t get the goal that we needed.
“I thought we struggled tonight. We had to play so hard last night, and they skate so darn well. Two very even hockey teams and just a big emotional win for our kids to bounce back and get this win here tonight,” said Spartan coach Rick Comley.
“They’re different teams. They’ve got such great speed, last night we went with them, tonight we were a little bit tired but diligent, and we got outstanding goaltending both nights – both goaltenders both nights made lots of good saves – it’s exciting hockey.”
“I thought we played pretty well the first two periods, but we still didn’t capitalize on our chances. The power play didn’t finish on their chances, and you needed to get that first goal, and we just couldn’t get it,” Berenson said.
“I knew it would be hard fought. When you win that Friday game, you don’t expect it to be five hundred. We had to put our best foot forward on Friday and then have a chance to have a great weekend, and obviously that didn’t work out that way.
“I can’t tell you there’s a big difference between these two teams.”
The only major difference between the two teams in Comley’s mind was which team hit the back of the net first, and in both games, the only team to hit the back of the net.
“We got the lead,” Comley said.