DETROIT — Michigan State battled back to erase four different Michigan leads, forcing a 5-5 tie before 18,071 at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday.
Brandon Kaleniecki scored two goals to close the second period and open the third, giving the Wolverines a seemingly insurmountable 5-3 lead with 19 minutes left to play. To top it off, Michigan continued to dominate once it built a two-goal lead, earning a power play with less than 16 minutes to play.
Somehow and someway the Spartans found a way to turn a sure loss into a tie.
“When we are down, 5-3, we might not like how we got down, but we overcame it, so I’m very proud of the effort,” said MSU coach Rick Comley. “We’re tired. We had 8 games in 16 days. This is a very big point for us because everyone is so packed in the league standings.”
“Of course this tie is disappointing. It’s like a loss. We did a lot of good things and I’m just disappointed with the outcome, not our team or the way we played,” said Berenson.
Tyler Howells gave Michigan State life with a power-play goal at the 11:37 mark. A rebound found its way to Howells’ stick at the bottom of the left circle, and he was able to find daylight behind Billy Sauer to cut the deficit to 5-4.
David Booth’s second goal of the night proved to be the game-tying goal for the Spartans. He rocketed a one-timer from the high slot to the top right corner of the net with 3:56 left to play.
Booth, a Michigan native who was incredibly close to signing with the Wolverines after a stint with the U.S. NTDP, missed much of the first half of his senior season with a nagging injury. Tonight, a healthy Booth proved to be a great asset for the Spartans.
Although this comeback was dramatic, these two teams are no strangers to tight games. Five of their last six contests have ended in ties and nine of the last 10 games have been decided by one goal or less. MSU, however, seems to be the only team to win a game in this series, holding a 7-game unbeaten streak against its bitter rival (2-0-5).
This game was also eerily similar to a game between these two teams at Yost Ice Arena last year in which Drew Miller scored twice in the last 2:26 to bring the Spartans back from down two.
Michigan is certainly not to be faulted for the tie. The Wolverines played a terrific game, scoring just about every type of goal imaginable. In the first period alone, Michigan scored a five-on-three power-play goal, an even-strength goal, and a shorthanded goal.
From the initial faceoff, the Wolverines seemed to have the upper hand. Just 3:57 into the game, Kevin Porter gave Michigan its first lead of the night, cashing in on a two-man advantage.
The Maize and Blue outshot the Spartans, 19-6, in the first frame, and earned four power-play opportunities. Unfortunately, they could only escape with a 3-2 lead.
It’s hard to look upon a period of dominance like that with regret, but the Wolverines failed to deliver the knockout blow early with a string of four consecutive power plays within the first 10:33 of the game and a 19-6 shot advantage after one period.
“We shouldn’t have given up two goals on four shots at one point, but it was just one of those things that happen,” said Berenson. “If you looked at the shots and you looked at the score, you wouldn’t believe it.”
In the end, the game may have come down to just that cashing in on the power play. MSU went 2-2 in the third period to erase a two-goal deficit while Michigan failed to score on three opportunities in the first period and another in overtime.
“They capitalized on a couple of chances that maybe on another night wouldn’t have gone in,” said Berenson. “You hate to say that they are marginal calls, but they were close calls and we couldn’t kill them. We had a chance late in the game and couldn’t connect, and it was a game where one team was going to have a break,” said Berenson.
“Power plays impacted the game tonight both ways. They took advantage of theirs at one point, and we took advantage of ours late,” said Comley.
This game, like the game before, also had a controversial goal. This time the puck bounced in favor of the Spartans, who were robbed of a goal that went through the net last evening. Tonight, video replay proved that Chris Mueller kicked in MSU’s second goal.
“I really thought that the one goal that looked like it got kicked in should have been reviewed and the referee didn’t seem to understand if he even could in this building,” said Berenson. “I don’t know what the rule is, but it should be an automatic if you have the equipment and the opportunity.”
Referee Brian Aaron was in position to make the call, and was either aware of a CCHA rule denying the use of video replay in JLA for a regular-season game or chose not to review because of his vantage point.
Comley said, “I think he was so emphatic that it was in and fine that he just didn’t have a question.”
MSU escaped with a tie tonight to preserve a 1-0-3 season series victory against the Wolverines. And after 258 contests all-time, for some reason, these teams seem destined to meet again this season.