EAST LANSING, Mich. — After the Spartans and Colonials exchanged quick goals twice in the first period, Michigan State scored four unanswered — three in the third period — in a dominant 6-2 win over Robert Morris.
Sophomore Lee Reimer notched his first collegiate hat trick with markers in the first and third periods, and he and his linemates Mike Merrifield and Greg Wolfe helped to provide the Spartans with an opportunity to update a few statistics.
With three goals and two assists, Reimer is the first Spartan with a five-point game since Oct. 2003. Wolfe — filling in on that line for Dean Chelios, who injured his arm in last night’s 5-2 win — is the first Spartan to register four assists in a single game since Oct. 2005. Merrifield scored twice, giving MSU its first game in which two players have had multi-goal outputs since January 2008.
MSU’s 11 goals was its single biggest offensive output since 2009′s Great Lakes Invitational Tournament, in which the Spartans recorded a total of 16 goals combined against Michigan Tech and Rensselear.
“I thought tonight was a fun game,” said junior captain Torey Krug. “I think we stuck to the game plan throughout the whole 60 minutes. Maybe we weren’t getting the results in the first two periods, but we stuck with it and got a few lucky bounces. We were able to bury the puck, and overall it was just a lot of fun to be out there tonight.”
RMU coach Derek Schooley said that the Spartans’ tenacity overpowered the Colonials, especially in that third period.
“They wore us down,” said Schooley. “That fourth goal was really a back breaker, deflated us a little bit. It wasn’t fair to our goalie, Brooks Ostergard. That wasn’t a 6-2 hockey game. That was a 4-2 game, and then two late ones because we stopped playing a little bit.”
Twice in the first period, the teams exchanged goals a minute or less apart, with the Colonials scoring first each time. At 4:54, RMU’s Tyler Hinds scored on a two-on-one breakaway following an MSU turnover in the neutral zone, taking a pass in the right circle from Nick Chiavetta to beat goaltender Drew Palmisano clean, but Reimer answered at 5:20 when he converted on his own rebound after Ostergard had trouble with the puck on the first attempt.
At 6:46, Cody Wydo gave the Colonials their second lead with a shot from the right point, but exactly a minute later, Reimer scored his second — again on a rebound — to knot it 2-2 after one.
MSU coach Tom Anastos said that the first two RMU goals were easy ones.
“I thought we made bad reads,” said Anastos, “and they very well executed a two-on-one — as you would in a textbook — and we very poorly executed a two-on-one as you would in a textbook.
“I thought the important thing was that we responded right away and the energy level stayed high. Once we got that behind us, we continued to focus on keeping the game very simple, and we talked about playing for 60 minutes and not trying to hit home runs — try to hit bunts and singles and be patient and play with some poise, and I thought we did.”
Merrifield made it 3-2 after two when he scored his first at 7:13 on an odd-man breakaway. Reimer’s third goal made it 4-2 at 5:51 in the third on another rebound shot. Freshman Matt Berry scored his first collegiate goal at 16:27 to make it 5-2, and Merrifield capped the scoring from Krug and Reimer at 18:01.
Palmisano made 17 saves in his second win of the season; in his fourth loss of the year, Ostergard stopped 34-of-40.
Next up for RMU (2-5-0) is a pair of home games against Atlantic Hockey foe American International November 4-5, and Schooley is looking forward to the chance to regroup at home against a conference rival.
“We’re done with our nonconference now until Ohio State in December,” said Schooley. “We just have to get back to basics and get into our league schedule a little bit.”
The Spartans (4-4-0) don’t play again until they travel to Western Michigan for CCHA action November 11-12.
“I’m really happy for our team that we can come out of this [weekend] on a winning side,” said Anastos, “and let that linger for awhile while we kind of recharge our batteries for a little bit.”