EAST LANSING, Mich. — With strong play from special teams and a 33-save performance from senior Bobby Jarosz, the Michigan State Spartans did something they hadn’t done since the end of the 2007-08 season: they swept a single opponent in a two-game set.
Four different Spartans tallied, twice on the power play, to give MSU a 4-2 win over Clarkson a day after taking their home opener 6-1.
“Hard fought, good opening weekend; gives us something to build on.” That was MSU coach Rick Comley’s summation.
Nick Sucharski netted his first goal in two seasons after sitting out the 2008-09 campaign with a shoulder injury, freshman Derek Grant scored his second goal of the weekend, Daultan Leveille had his first, and freshman Chris Forfar plucked a goal from midair with less than three minutes left to score his first career goal, the game-winner.
Forfar’s goal came from classmates and linemates Zach Golembiewski and Kevin Walrod at 17:11 in the third. With heavy traffic in front of the Knights’ goal, Golembiewski took a pass from Walrod and shot. The rebound popped up for Forfar to bat in.
“I saw it in the air, and I didn’t know if it was going to go in or if the goalie was going to glove it, so I just tried to get a piece of it at my shoulders before the play was dead,” said Forfar, who said he was “surprised” by the initial call because, he said, his stick ended up “being below the crossbar” when the puck went in.
“I can’t take too much credit,” said Forfar. “I was just being lazy on the side of the net. My linemates were doing all the work. I ended up being at the right place at the right time; my linemates were doing a good job of getting the puck to the net.”
After MSU’s decisive win Friday night, Clarkson came prepared to play from the opening drop of the puck tonight, surprising the Spartans with an early goal and led 2-1 after one on two unassisted goals. Mark Borowiecki intercepted a pass near the MSU net and scored at 1:49.
Sucharski answered for the Spartans at 7:13 on a power play with Borowiecki in the box, but Louke Oakley scored from the point on the Clarkson power play at 14:29 in the first.
Michigan State won the second period with two goals set up by junior defenseman and captain Jeff Petry, in spite of spending nearly eight consecutive minutes in the penalty box early in the stanza. At 3:25, Petry passed to Grant at the right point, and Grant’s blast beat Knights’ goaltender Paul Karpowich low to tie the game. Then, on a two-on-one fly six minutes later, Levielle took a cross-crease shuffle from Petry and fired past Karpowich on the glove side at 9:36 to make it 3-2 after two.
The intensity was even for the first half of the third period, with both goaltenders tested early. With 2:30 gone in the period, Karpowich made a stellar kick save with his right leg on Corey Tropp’s rebound after blocking Tropp’s initial shot.
Then at 4:29 in the third, the Knights forced the play at the Spartans’ goalmouth and several bodies, and the puck, crashed into the MSU net. Upon review, the goal was disallowed after having been ruled to have been directed in by a Clarkson player’s hand.
The Knights got that one back, however, just minutes later when Matt Beca scored a breaking goal to tie it 3-3 at 7:31. The last 10 minutes of the game were all Michigan State, culminating in Forfar’s game-winner at 17:11.
“I thought Clarkson responded really well, and their goaltender responded better,” said Comley. “We’re going to be in a lot of close games. I think with young teams, you get chances like that, you get going; we hurt ourselves with some avoidable penalties obviously, a little bit sloppy that way.”
Karpowich ended the night stopping 27-of-31 Spartan shots. The Golden Knights were 1-for-8 on the power play, the Spartans 2-for-6.
After losing by five goals Friday night, the Knights had “no give-up” tonight, said Clarkson coach George Roll.
“Obviously, it was a very good hockey game for both teams. I thought our guys were a much different team from last night, competed for 60 minutes. Obviously, it could have gone either way. I was proud of our effort tonight. It was certainly a step in the direction from last night.
“That’s the way we’ve got to play all year. It’s a good lesson for us on the road. It should give us some confidence going into next weekend.”
Next weekend, Clarkson (0-2-0) hosts Niagara Friday night and RIT Saturday, while the Spartans (2-0-0) travel to Maine for two games Oct. 16-17.