EAST LANSING, Mich. — For the second game in a row, a match between Ohio State and Michigan State threatened to end tied in regulation, but Jeff Petry’s game winning, power-play five-hole goal at 16:13 in the third period lifted the Spartans over the Buckeyes, 2-1. The win extended the Spartans unbeaten streak to four games and it was their first four point weekend since Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2008.
“We haven’t had very many fun Sundays recently,” said MSU head coach Rick Comley. “The kids really deserve a lot of credit. We had a really depleted lineup tonight. It’s reinforcing that Jeff [Lerg] has been sending the right message.”
Lerg, the senior captain, stopped 33-of-34 tonight and 69 of the 71 he faced in the two game set.
“We needed it,” said Lerg of the four-point weekend. “We’ve been kicked down all year and we’ve had negative after negative pile upon us. For two big wins in a row and to do it the way we did — a nice, gritty win tonight — it’s huge for this team.”
At the other end of the rink, OSU sophomore netminder Dustin Carlson made 33 saves in this contest and 24 in Friday’s contest, allowing just three goals in the two game series. Clearly, it was not OSU’s goaltending that cost the No. 16 Buckeyes points in East Lansing this weekend.
“They played hard,” said Ohio State head coach John Markell. “They’re a good team. They came and out-competed us this weekend. It’s a heck of a learning lesson for us. It’s very humbling for our young guys.”
The Spartans took the early 1-0 lead in this one on Joey Shean’s second goal of the season before the game was five minutes old. Brett Perlini, who netted his first collegiate goal in yesterday’s 1-1 tie, tossed the puck out of the right corner to Shean, who put it home high on Carlson’s glove side at 4:24.
The Buckeyes tied the game at 1:02 in the second on Shane Sims’ fifth marker of the year. Mathieu Picard got the puck away from the boards and passed to Chris Reed at the top of the left circle; Reed one-timed it to Sims at the right point and Sims fired through traffic in the lane and past Lerg.
The Spartans had power-play chances before their game-winner to equalize the game. At 8:44 in the third, the Buckeyes committed two simultaneous infractions — Taylor Stephishen’s five-minute major for hitting from behind that flattened Spartan Daultan Leveille and Chris Reed’s two minutes for hooking in a separate incident — to give MSU a full two minutes of five-on-three hockey followed by three minutes of man-advantage, but the Spartans couldn’t muster much during the five minutes.
That penalty kill was a bright spot for the Buckeyes this weekend, but Markell said that “dumb penalties” once again hurt OSU late in the game. “We hung together and killed off a 5-on-3 and a five-minute penalty,” said Markell. “It was going well until then.
“It’s upsetting that it was a power-play goal but they scored on it. You have to give them credit. They’re playing well right now and they’re going to be a tough team to play in the playoffs.”
Two second period Spartan goals were disallowed in the game. At the five minute mark in the second period, Brandon Gentile had a shot from the left point that was tipped up and over Carlson’s right shoulder. The lamp was lit and the horn sounded, but referee Steve McInchak immediately waved off the goal and indicated a high stick.
Upon the review, the no-goal call stood, but it was unclear whether the puck was directed in by the stick of either Perlini or Trevor Nill, both of whom were in the path of the shot that was fired.
Later in the stanza, an interesting series of events led to another no-goal call. First, OSU’s Matt Bartkowski flattened a Spartan from behind at the right dot with no call, and then MSU’s Dustin Gazley was whistled for clipping along the boards near the right circle in the OSU end. With the whistle blown for the change of puck possession and McInchak’s hand up to warn of the delayed call, the puck was shot into the Buckeye net, the lamp lit, and horn sounded ” but no goal.
The weekend was costly for the already-depleted Spartans. Freshman forward Adam Henderson injured a shoulder last night, and Leveille sat out the remainder of the third period after being hit. The loss of so many players this season — Andrew Conboy and Corey Tropp to suspension two weeks ago, A.J. Sturges to an off-ice injury at the start of the season — has given a few young Spartans to create stats, like the Shean-Perlini-Trevor connection that led to the first goal of the night.
“I said it last weekend,” said Lerg,”we’re not going down without a fight. These guys are still fighting and we know that this is our team right now and that we’re not getting anyone back. These guys have an opportunity and they’re taking advantage of it.”
Comley said that keeping his young team, sparse team upbeat has been the goal all season long, but especially recently. “You try to coach in a positive way, despite everything that has gone on. All of a sudden you get two wins against a nationally ranked team that is in the top of the league and you get excited for another week.”
Next week, Ohio State (18-10-4, 11-9-4-3 CCHA) hosts Michigan for two in Columbus, while the Spartans (9-18-5, 6-14-4-3 CCHA) play a home-and-home series against Bowling Green, hosting Friday, Feb. 20 and traveling the following night.