SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Thanks to a last-second goal, Lake Superior State opened up CCHA conference play with a 3-2 victory over Michigan State.
The Lakers scored with less than one full second remaining on the clock in the second period that at the time, gave the Lakers a 3-1 lead over the Spartans. The Lakers ultimately held on for the win in the first conference game for both schools.
In the final moments of the second period, Chris Ciotti picked up a loose puck in close and his backhand beat Spartans’ goaltender Will Yanakeff as time expired. A short video review led to the goal counting and the Lakers taking a two-goal lead into the final period.
“We had three chances to get the puck out and we didn’t and it ends up in our net with less than a second to go,” said Michigan State coach Tom Anastos. “Those are game-changers.”
“That was a huge goal,” said LSSU coach Jim Roque. “It’s the little plays like that that kill you. That killed them tonight, giving us the 3-1 lead. It’s a little different [in the third period] going in 2-1 than 3-1. It was a good break.”
After a scoreless opening period, the Lakers jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second period. Ben Power opened the scoring for the Lakers when he deflected a Zach Sternberg shot past Yanakeff at 6:15. Nick McParland then gave the Lakers a 2-0 lead when his shot from the right faceoff circle beat Yanakeff at 9:54.
“I was happy with our effort,” said Roque. “If we get the same effort tomorrow night, we’ll have a chance to win.”
Tanner Sorenson got the Spartans on the board at 16:38 of the second period while Anthony Hayes, in the third period, had the other Michigan State goal.
“I don’t like the way we played tonight,” said Anastos. “And that’s not meant to be disrespectful. I give Lake State credit for playing a really hard game, but we talked about trying to keep our game really simple and I didn’t think we did. We made way too many turnovers. Some of them were forced, but many of them weren’t. We tried to complicate the game more than it needed to be.”
The Lakers lost the services of goalie Kevin Kapalka in the win. The junior left the game after Michigan State’s second-period goal after his shoulder popped out of place. He had surgery on his shoulder for a similar problem. This injury was to the other shoulder, according to Roque.
The plan is to have the shoulder looked at on Monday, but Roque confirmed that Kevin Murdock, who came in for Kapalka on Friday, would get the start on Saturday night.
Kapalka made 17 saves on Friday night before leaving the game. Murdock stopped five shots for the Lakers in relief. Yanakeff stopped 26 shots for the Spartans in the loss.