DETROIT — The first period was all Michigan. The second period was all Michigan State. Michigan freshman Chris Brown eventually won the seesaw battle that took place between the two combatants in the third period.
Michigan beat Michigan State, 5-4, on Brown’s hard-working effort at 17:53 of the third period in front of an announced crowd of 18,146 college hockey partisans at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit Saturday night.
After Michigan State fought back to tie the game and then take the lead in the third period on goals by Jeff Petry and Dean Chelios, 4-3, Michigan managed a short-handed tally by Matt Rust and then Brown’s winning effort all in the period’s final five minutes.
“It was just hard work by everyone on the ice,” said Brown of the deciding goal. “We talked about it at the beginning of the game. That’s what it’s going to take to beat Michigan State. That’s what we did. We just battled to the end.”
Trailing 3-2 heading into the third period, Michigan State’s Petry knotted the game on a power play effort only 50 seconds into the period, beating Rust to the puck and sliding the rebound off Torey Krug’s shot by Michigan goaltender Hogan.
The Spartans finally captured the lead when Chelios stripped Ben Winnett of the puck behind the net and used a wrap-around move to beat a surprised Hogan at 13:09.
Michigan gamely battled back.
Playing short-handed, Carl Hagelin stole the puck from Michigan State netminder Drew Palmisano, circled out of the corner and found Rust waiting at the corner of the net for Hagelin’s pass. Rust calmly fired Hagelin’s pass by Palmisano to pull the Wolverines even, 4-4
Brown’s persistence proved the difference. His game-winning goal came after he had already taken several swipes at the puck. He pulled the puck back and finally connected with one of several bangs he took at the disc.
“We had the lead in the third period,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “We shouldn’t have to be battling back. We were lucky, but we won.
“I liked the way we came to play. We were a different team than last night. It showed in the first period. They got back in the game in the second period. It was anyone’s game in the third period.”
“Hard fought game,” tersely commented Michigan State coach Rick Comley. “I thought our kids battled back hard; did a heck of a job. Kind of a miscommunication on the tying goal. They were able to find the loose puck on the winning goal.”
The Spartans entered the game looking to sweep the season series against Michigan.
Michigan State knocked off Michigan Friday night, 3-2, after taking out Michigan twice in their two-game series back in November.
Michigan badly needed a win to bolster their flagging prospects for an NCAA tournament bid as well as their quest to earn a bye in the first round of the CCHA playoffs. Michigan State was looking for a knockout punch on their in-state rivals.
Clearly sensing the urgency of their standing in the conference, Michigan dominated play early in the first period, but didn’t find the Spartans’ net until the second half of the opening period. When they finally struck, though, they were potent.
At 13:07, playing four-on-four, Michigan senior Chris Summers skated the length of the ice and managed to get a backhand shot off. A.J. Treais pounced on the open puck at the corner of the net and gave Michigan a 1-0 lead.
Summers was the catalyst again on the Wolverines’ second goal at 17:51. The Michigan captain’s shot from the right point deflected off the skate of a Michigan State defender and slithered by Palmisano.
With only 26 seconds left in the period, Michigan extended their lead to 3-0. Brown stickhandled by Zach Josepher and flipped a centering feed to Brian Lebler, who batted the puck by Palmisano.
Michigan State used a short-handed goal early in the second period to force its way back into contention and turn the flow of the game back into its favor, eventually pulling within one, 3-2, by the period’s end.
With teammate Corey Tropp in the penalty box, Dustin Gazley made a pure hustle play, beating Wolverines’ defenseman Lee Moffie to a loose puck that Gazley himself caused with a diving poke check. Gazley whirled and threw a pinpoint pass to Rowe standing at the side of the Michigan cage. Rowe had time to gather himself and whistle the puck past Hogan at 3:42 of the second period.
Using the momentum garnered by the Rowe goal, the Spartans struck again at 8:36.
Brett Perlini grabbed a rebound from Jeff Petry’s shot from the right point and beat Hogan, who was sliding back across the ice after straying out to make the initial stop on Petry. The goal was Perlini’s sixth of the season, and drew the Spartans into close range, 3-2.
Both the Spartans (17-9-4, 12-6-4-1 CCHA) and the Wolverines (15-12-1, 10-9-1-0 CCHA) have big travel plans coming up next weekend. Michigan State makes the long trek northward to take on Alaska in a two-game set. Michigan heads out Thursday night for an away match at Bowling Green, followed by a non-conference tilt in the outdoor Camp Randall Classic in Madison against Wisconsin late Saturday afternoon.