EAST LANSING, Mich. — Just one night removed from an 8-0 Spartan onslaught, Michigan State and Lake Superior battled to a 2-2 tie in a classic defensive struggle Saturday night.
The Lakers (7-13-4, 6-7-3 CCHA), who surrendered four goals in the first period Friday evening, settled into their game tonight, forcing the Spartans (13-11-2, 8-9-1 CCHA) into turnovers and winning one-on-one battles.
“Our youngsters have to play with heart and desire every game. Last night they didn’t even get a chance to see if they were any good because State got on us so quick,” said Laker coach Frank Anzalone. “Tonight our kids played hard and maybe deserved more than a tie, but you have to be respectful and one point at this point of the season was very valuable to us. We were able to compete with a team that’s got a lot of talent.”
Despite giving up the first goal of the game, Lake Superior battled back twice from one-goal deficits in the second period to earn the tie. The Lakers forced the Spartans back on their heels, dominating the third period from the first shift onward.
“It was a hard-fought game I thought Lake Superior was much better tonight,” said MSU coach Rick Comley. “They played their style and got the puck in our zone. Last night they didn’t do that at all. Tonight they used their size very well and we had trouble handling them down low. You could tell right away it was a different hockey game because they were able to stay in their comfort zone.”
“There was a momentum change in the third period, but Michigan State did a good job of holding their fort. We could have won; we just couldn’t snipe and that’s why we got the tie,” said Anzalone.
Although the Lakers may view the tie as a positive, MSU saw the game as a missed opportunity.
“It’s a tough league and it’s tough week-to-week. You go into every game expecting to win. We weren’t as sharp, and Lake Superior trapped a lot and made it hard for us,” said Comley. “We had a couple of great chances late in regulation and hit the crossbar in overtime.”
MSU came the closest to finding the elusive game-winner in the extra frame, but the iron was unkind to the Spartans. David Booth worked a loose puck free at the bottom of the right circle and beat goaltender Jeff Jakaitis high, but the puck clanked off the crossbar.
“Booth, at the end of the game when State couldn’t get anything going, made a man’s play and hit the crossbar,” said Anzalone. “The goal he tied the game on was a man’s play. They didn’t tic-tac-toe to score those goals — Booth made a man’s plays.”
Just 44 seconds into the extra frame, Derek R. Smith took a high-sticking penalty that gave the Spartans a man advantage in overtime. Although the Spartans worked the puck around well, and generated a few scoring chances including Booth’s crossbar, they just could not find the net on the power play. Overall, Michigan State was only 1 for 7 on the man-advantage.
The first was quiet compared to a night ago with each team registering eight shots. MSU got the benefit of five power plays, but was only able to convert on one. Ash Goldie recorded his 10th tally of the year to put the Spartans on the scoreboard. The senior forward skated into the Laker zone one-on-one and uncorked a wrister that appeared to fool Jakaitis, beating him five-hole for the early lead.
The second period, however, belonged to Lake Superior. After being shut out for 82:41 this weekend, Matt Restoule put the Lakers on the scoreboard. He and Jon Booras skated in on a two-on-one with the latter cutting across the low slot. Booras mishandled the puck, but Restoule cleaned things up to even the score.
Trent Campbell scored the second Laker goal of the night on another broken play. After Daniel Vukovic blocked Jeff Rainville’s initial shot, Campbell picked up the loose puck at the left faceoff dot and slipped a low shot through the defense and a surprised Dominic Vicari.
Laker goaltender Jeff Jakaitis rebounded in a big way from Friday’s outing, making 31 saves including a game-saving, full-extension glove save on Jim Slater in the closing seconds of regulation.
“I knew he’d do fine and win lose, or draw he was going in net tonight. He’s a guy with a big heart and I know he’d do fine. I’m very proud of the way he played,” said Anzalone.
On the other side, Vicari finished with 27 saves on 29 shots in the tie.
Next weekend, Michigan State will entertain the U.S. Under-18 team for an exhibition game while Lake Superior will make the trip to Fairbanks for a set.