EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said he had a “gut feeling” about starting the line of sophomores Brent Darnell and Matt Berry and freshman Matt DeBlouw for tonight’s game against arch-rival Michigan.
That line started in Ann Arbor Friday night, where the Spartans lost 5-1.
In tonight’s rematch, those three Spartans were responsible for five goals as Michigan State upset No. 12 Michigan 7-2 in front of a record-breaking home crowd of 7,225 at Munn Ice Arena.
“I wrestled with what to do tonight and I thought, ‘You know, I’m going to give them another chance,’” said Anastos. “I guess by happenstance, it was a good call.”
A very good call.
Berry scored 34 seconds into the contest to fire up the Spartans and the home crowd, adding two more goals for his first collegiate hat trick. MSU was up 3-0 before this contest was seven minutes old on Darnell’s goal and a marker by Anthony Hayes, scored just 23 seconds apart. By the 11-minute mark, the Spartans were up 4-1.
“There were five goals scored in the first 10 minutes and four of them against us and that cannot happen,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “You talk about putting yourselves in a hole and we put ourselves in a hole.
“They didn’t have a good night last night and they were a little embarrassed. They came back tonight. They have pride and they had a great night. Your best players are supposed to be your best players and theirs were tonight.”
Michigan’s goal in the first period came on the power play at 7:54 and belonged to freshman Cristoval Nieves, but Berry answered with a power-play tally of his own at 10:42. The teams exchanged goals in the second period – the calmest period of the night with just two penalties called, both against MSU – and the Spartans put it away with DeBlouw’s even-strength goal early in the third when they went up 6-2.
“Our team played a lot better as a unit tonight,” said Berry. “We got pucks out of our end. We were just going all night, nonstop.”
The seven-goal output was a first for the Spartans since a Jan. 21, 2011 home win over Miami and it was the first time that MSU put up seven against Michigan since Nov. 3, 2006, another home win.
The Saturday win following a Friday loss has been a pattern for the Spartans for three weeks running, prompting Anastos to begin his post-game comments with a little joke at MSU’s expense.
“I have a special announcement for all of you folks,” quipped Anastos. “Starting next week, all of our games have been moved to Saturday nights.”
Anastos said that he can’t account for the Friday-Saturday trend, but can explain some differences between the first game of the weekend and tonight’s contest.
“I think that guys were tentative and uptight and you can see that in the first period [Friday],” said Anastos. “I thought we calmed down yesterday a little bit, started to play the game a little bit, then make just a terrible turnover that changes the game.”
That “terrible turnover” was committed by Hayes, who redeemed himself in the first period tonight.
There was a slew of penalties in the first and third periods and tempers flared throughout the contest. The Woverines were 1-for-7 with the man advantage, the Spartans 2-for-7.
Michigan freshman Jared Rutledge made 20 saves until being replaced by his classmate, Steve Racine, with 10:41 left in the contest. Berenson said that he was satisfied with the starter’s performance.
“I didn’t think it was his doing and he made some good saves,” said Berenson. “He needs the experience and he needs to get in there, but there was a point where it wasn’t fair to him.”
The last time the Wolverines gave up seven goals in a single game was Oct. 8, 2008, a 7-2 road loss to Boston University.
Rutledge’s counterpart, MSU freshman Jake Hildebrand, stopped 40 shots in his second career win.
Michigan (4-4-1, 2-3-1-1 CCHA) and Michigan State (4-5-1, 3-3-0-0 CCHA) will meet again for another home-and-home series Feb. 1-2, 2013.