ORONO, Maine — Michigan State University junior right wing Corey Tropp spoiled the University of Maine Black Bears home opener Friday night, notching his first career hat trick to lead the Spartans to a 5-3 non-conference win at Alfond Arena in Orono.
Remarkably, the Spartans assistant captains goals came at even strength, shorthanded, and on the power play, respectively. Tropps hat trick was the first by a Michigan State player since Justin Abdelkader did it on Feb. 29, 2008.
Hes played very well, so its always fun when the puck goes in, Michigan State coach Rick Comley said.
The Spartans averaged a microscopic 1.61 goals per game a year ago, and Comley is encouraged by his young teams five goal average offensive output in their first three contests. Seven goals have come on the power play.
We had a good weekend last weekend on the power play, Comley said. I thought it was very evenly matched though.
The first game of a weekend pair was a re-match of the 2007 NCAA Frozen Four semifinal, in which the Spartan scored four unanswered goals against the Black Bears for a 4-2 win on their to upsetting Boston College to win the national championship in St. Louis.
Maine senior center David deKastrozza and Michigan State senior center Nick Sucharski were the only players to see ice time in both Fridays game and that semifinal. Each team has 18 underclassmen.
Fridays match-up was the first regular season tilt between the teams since Michigan State swept a weekend set at Alfond Arena in 1989. Thirteen of the meetings have come in the postseason.
The Spartans improved to 10-4-1 all-time against the Black Bears and remain undefeated on the young season at 3-0-0. Maine fell to 0-3-0.
I thought Maine had a great start to the game, Comley said. We gave a very hard fought game.
Michigan State answered a pair of one goal deficits in the first period before Tropp broke the 2-2 tie in the second period with his second and third goals of the game. They were his third and fourth of the season.
When youre on the road, youve got to keep your composure, Tropp said. We just tried to weather the storm a little bit, and chip away.
Tropp scored the game winning shorthanded goal on Maines third power play of the second period. He picked off the puck at center ice and skated in alone before beating Black Bears sophomore goalie Scott Darling high to his glove side.
At first I thought about going to the backhand, but the defender had back-checked me, Tropp said. He had a pretty good angle on me, so I just tried to get a good shot off.
Maine sophomore right wing Gustav Nyquist brought the game back within one at 4-3 with a power-play goal just before the second intermission, but Michigan State junior defenseman Jeff Petry added an insurance goal with 3:22 left in the third period.
I think we came out really good tonight, Nyquist said. At the end we didnt do a good enough job in front of our net.
Michigan State sophomore goalie Drew Palmisano made 23 saves on 26 shots to pick up his second win of the season. Darling stopped 29 of 34 shots in his first start of the season after serving a two game suspension for violating the schools student-athlete code of conduct.
The reason they outshot us was the second shots, Maine coach Tim Whitehead said.
Comley thought the Spartans killing of a 4-on-3 to start the third period was a big moment in the game.
Once we got by the 4-on-3, then fortunately we didnt take much (penalties) after that, Comley said.
Michigan State went 2-for-6 on the power play, while Maine scored on 2-of-7 chances with the man advantage.
The Black Bears took an early 1-0 lead on their first power play, 5:18 into the first period. Junior defenseman Jeff Dimmen found deKastrozza at the near post from the right point. deKastrozza tipped the puck past Palmisano for his first collegiate goal.
Tropp and sophomore defenseman Tim Buttery each redirected initial shots in front of the net for their first period goals. Tropps first goal answered deKastrozzas goal just seven seconds after the faceoff.
Maine regained the lead for the second time near the halfway point of the period. Freshman defenseman Mike Cornell blasted a slap shot from the right point that came back out from behind the net to junior center Robby Dee waiting at the far post to tip it in. It was Dees first goal of the season.
Tropp secured his hat trick with just over a minute remaining in the second period. He camped out at the far post to flick in a bouncing puck sent in by Crandell from the right point.
The teams will meet at Alfond Arena again Saturday night at 7 p.m.