As tight as last night’s 1-1 tie was between the Nanooks and Spartans, this game opened up in the second period — and all Michigan State’s way. After Jarret Granberg gave Alaska the 1-0 lead after one, MSU scored four unanswered goals to cap a two-game set with tonight’s three conference points in a 4-1 win.
Four different Spartans scored, with defenseman Torey Krug getting the eventual game-winner on a power play at 9:35 in the second, a 20-minute stretch in which the Spartans outshot the Nanooks 18-1.
“I thought we were real disciplined at playing our game,” said MSU coach Rick Comley. “It’s a simple game. It’s chip it, chip it, chip it, go in and get it. And then we kept it. We really made them play at their goal line.
“We didn’t turn the puck over as much tonight. Their first goal was a turnover in the zone, but then we were down there and we were able to make them defend their end of the ice.”
That first goal by Granberg came at 15:08 in the first, a pick-up of Kevin Petovello’s rebounded shot. UAF outshot MSU 9-8 in the first.
“In the first period, I think both teams had a few chances,” said Nanooks coach Dallas Ferguson. “We felt after the first period that we didn’t play a solid period. We thought we were a little bit sloppy with the puck, but to come out up one, we thought, ‘Hey, that’s a good road period.’
“In the second period, we came out and waited for things to happen. We didn’t go out and make things happen. Again, we got into penalty trouble, and when you do that it just snowballs from there.”
The Nanooks had four penalties to the Spartans’ two in the second, including overlapping minors by Colton Beck and Aaron Gens a minute apart that led to Krug’s game-winning, five-on-three tally. Leveille scored from Jake Chelios and Derek Grant to tie the game at 6:23 in the second, and Krug’s goal at 9:35 was a rocket through traffic from the top of the slot to make it 2-1, 10 seconds after Leveille had a second goal waved off after a whistle was blown.
“We came out of the second period after maybe playing a worse period with penalties involved and it’s still 2-1,” said Ferguson, “so going into the third, you’ve got 20 minutes to win a hockey game.
“We started to play a little bit better and got some flow going in the game and then again we got into some penalty trouble.”
The UAF third-period penalty trouble was a single five-minute major and misconduct to Ryan Hohl at 9:00, preventing the Nanooks from sustaining any offensive threat in spite of the UAF 9-5 shot advantage.
“One of their strengths is patience, take away the middle, transition,” Comley said of the Nanooks. “They didn’t get a chance to do that tonight. Very few odd-man rushes tonight.”
Comley said that these first two weekends of play against Maine and Alaska help to give MSU a picture of where the Spartans need to be.
“We’ve played two top-10 teams, and now we’re 2-0-2. Obviously a disappointing shootout loss. Played two different teams, style-wise: the high-powered offensive team and a really good defensive team with a great goalie and managed to get…points.”
The Spartans next host Alabama-Huntsville Oct. 29 and 30, while the Nanooks (3-2-1, 0-1-1-1 CCHA) host Bowling Green.