EAST LANSING, Mich. — For the second time in 12 days, Ferris State goaltender Pat Nagle shut out Michigan State, this time with 28 saves in a 1-0 overtime win. Chad Billins’ game-winning goal was deflected in by a Spartans skater at 3:54 in OT. MSU goaltender Drew Palmisano had 30 saves in the game.
“We won the draw back to Chad Billins, then Chad just kind of walked into the middle, threw it on net, and it bounced off of one of the Spartans’ skates and in,” said FSU head coach Bob Daniels.
“The thing I found interesting about it was that realistically, there were a ton of scoring opportunities for both teams. Look at one minute to go in regulation. Michigan State had a heck of a chance to score short-handed. It seemed like one of those nights that it was end up being a fluky goal, if there was any goal at all, and the reason being that both goalies were playing that well.”
With less than a minute to go in regulation, Spartans Anthony Hayes and Mike Merrifield created a short-handed breakaway chance after Hayes poked the puck from the MSU end into the neutral zone. Merrifield flew in with the puck and shot. Nagle saved, but the rebound came right to Hayes, who trailed in after Merrifield on the play. Hayes’ shot went wide of the empty right side of the net to keep the game scoreless.
“We got better as the game went on, but we don’t have a lot of offensive punch obviously,” said MSU coach Rick Comley. “We killed off that penalty at the end of regulation and almost got the short-hander and then very unfortunate for Palmy, because both goalies played well. It hit our stick and went in.”
The game in regulation was more choppy than it was back-and-forth, even though both teams had chances. The Bulldogs outshot the Spartans through the first two periods, 23-17, but MSU had the 10-6 shot advantage in the third. Each team exchanged excellent scoring chances near 13:45 in the second. Spartan Derek Grant broke in on Nagle, who made the save and transitioned play the other way. MSU turned over the puck in front of Palmisano and Travis Ouellette shot from point-blank range. Palmisano went prone to the ice to cover it up.
“It was interesting for both goaltenders,” said Daniels, “because there were times when I thought Michigan State carried the play…for five minutes at a time, and we would carry it for five minutes at a time, and both goalies were able to keep their focus throughout the night. I think they both deserve high marks for their play.”
The split helped the Bulldogs (8-6-3, 5-5-3-2 CCHA) into a tie with Alaska for fourth place in the CCHA standings, as the Nanooks were idle this weekend, but one win on the weekend did nothing for the Spartans (6-8-3, 3-6-1-0), who are still in 10th place.
Comley said that this was another game that exposed the inexperience of this MSU team.
“I thought the effort was fine,” said Comley, “but I didn’t think the quality was good. I thought [we] looked tired. I thought it was an old team versus a young team as far as strength and quality, but then we started to chip away at it and the third period was probably our best period. We didn’t get a lot of good scoring chances, either. Shots were kind of even [but] Palmy was tested much more than their kid was.”
Next up for Ferris State is a two-game home series against Alaska Dec. 10-11. For Michigan State, the only game remaining between this series and the Great Lakes Invitational tournament is next week’s Big Chill at the Big House, the outdoor game against the Wolverines in Michigan Stadium Dec. 11.