EAST LANSING, Mich. — Three of the last four games between Michigan and Michigan State have ended in ties and eight of the last nine contests have been decided by one goal or less. Friday’s result was no different as the Wolverines and Spartans skated to a 1-1 draw.
This particular game, however, featured something that the CCHA has never seen before.
With the Spartans leading 1-0 in the first period, Ethan Graham uncorked a slapshot that appeared to go through the net. Yes, through the net. With the CCHA in its infancy stages of video replay, this was the first time that a goal was reviewed to determine if it had, in fact, gone through the net.
“Everyone on the bench knew it was a goal right away,” said MSU coach Rick Comley. “You just saw the net move. I thought (the referee) did all he could. He really took his time, brought the assistant referees in to look at it. Obviously the goal was in, but the replay camera was the only one that didn’t conclusively show that it was in.”
Referee Stephen McInchak ruled there was a lack of substantial video evidence even after a ten-minute replay, but CSTV cameras proved otherwise, showing a different angle that better demonstrated the flight path of the puck through the net.
“We got lucky,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “I heard that it did go in by the television replay, but, nevertheless, it was a one goal game and somebody would get a break. maybe we got the break.”
Although it seemed like a minor disappointment at the time, it would be the last goal scored on the evening, and a possible game-winning goal for the Spartans.
“That was a big time and a big goal for us. If we get up by two with this crowd and the emotion in the building there is no way they are touching us,” said Comley.
Brandon Kaleniecki knocked home a Chad Kolarik rebound to tie the score at 1-1. After breaking up a pass at their own blue line, he and Kolarik sped down the ice on a two-on-one. Kolarik took a drive that Jeff Lerg was able to kick out, but Kaleniecki quickly deposited the rebound.
“It’s just good to have him back, just to put his name and his number on the scoresheet and in the starting lineup. He’s a big part of this team. He does the right thing – he’s a team player,” said Berenson.
Michigan State opened the scoring on a goal that Billy Sauer definitely wanted back. David Booth drove the net and snapped a shot at Sauer, who fended the shot to the end boards, but the puck bounced back out and onto the stick of Drew Miller, who slipped it between Sauer and the near post for a goal.
“You don’t want to give up goals like that to the short side,” said Sauer. “The first period I was a little out of place, but I felt more comfortable as the game went on. We can’t beat them. I think everyone is really frustrated about that.”
Despite his disappointment, Sauer was strong in his first career start at Munn Arena, stopping 21 of 22 shots in the tie, including several chances in overtime.
Lerg was also tested, making a game-saving save on Brandon Kaleniecki with 2:08 left in the game. His best save, however, was one he never had to make. T.J. Hensick collected a fumbling puck at the left post but chipped it toward the net instead of collecting it for an easy score. Hensick pulled the puck wide, coming up empty-handed on a prime chance to win the game.
With MSU leading the season series 1-0-2, the Wolverines will look to draw even tomorrow night as the teams faceoff at 7:30 tomorrow at Joe Louis Arena.
Michigan State notched its first sellout since November 18, 2004 and provided a terrific atmosphere for hockey, including a 100-piece band and approximately 1000 students, not to mention a 50/50 raffle prize that tallied over $2100.
Brandon Kaleniecki’s goal in the first period broke MSU’s 116:50 shutout streak against the Wolverines, which dated back to a 3-3 tie at Yost on October 22, 2005.
Jack Johnson had another incident, as he was whistled for taking a slash at the Spartan bench. Justin Abdelkader checked Johnson into the half boards along the bench and his stick was held. He responded by whirling out of the traffic with his stick high, catching David Booth in the neck. The result, however, may have justified Johnson’s actions: two minutes for holding the stick and two minutes for slashing.