EAST LANSING, Mich. — On two-goal performances by J.T. Compher and Derek DeBlois, Michigan topped Michigan State 5-2 to complete a two-game sweep of the Spartans in a series that began Thursday night at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.
The teams exchanged goals within minutes of each other in the first two periods, but the Wolverines scored two all by themselves in quick succession in the third and added another to make it a 5-2 game.
Michigan coach Red Berenson said that the win was especially significant because it was the first in Munn Ice Arena for the Wolverine’s senior class.
“That’s the first time in recent years that we’ve come out on top,” Berenson said. “It means a lot. They’re pretty excited about it. They have a lot of respect for their opponent.
“These games are big games. They’re becoming bigger games now that the Big Ten conference is on and those are big points in the standings. Any way you want to cut it, that is a big weekend for Michigan against a good opponent.”
Even though the game was tied 2-2 going into the third period, Michigan State coach Tom Anastos was brutally honest with his disappointment following the contest.
“Unacceptable performance tonight,” said Anastos. “It wasn’t just the third period. It was the whole game.
“I didn’t like our approach to the game. I felt it earlier in the day. I didn’t like it. It’s best that I’m careful what I say so that I don’t say too many stupid things, but we’ve got to grow up. You get humbled in your own building. You’ve got to take pride wearing that jersey representing the people you represent and it takes 100 percent commitment 100 percent of the time. We played a really good team who was ready to play, hungry to play, and they were hungrier to play than us – and that’s unacceptable.”
The Spartans scored both of their goals on the power play, Tanner Sorenson’s at 17:29 in the first and Michael Ferrantino’s at 7:19 in the second. Four of Michigan’s five goals were even strength, with Compher’s second goal of the night – the fifth goal of the game – scored late in the third.
It was 1-1 after the first on Sorenson’s shot from the left point through heavy traffic and Compher’s answer on the odd-man rush with six seconds left in the period.
At 5:09 in the second, Compher made a nice pass around a defender in the neutral zone to DeBlois just inside the blue line. DeBlois skated in and let a bouncing shot rip from the top of the right circle and the puck hit Michigan State goaltender Jake Hildebrand’s outstretched right leg before bouncing over and into the Spartans’ net.
Ferrantino picked up Villiam Haag’s rebound just over two minutes later and the period ended 2-2.
Two Michigan goals less than a minute apart early in the third gave the Wolverines a 4-2 lead when DeBlois tipped in Brennan Serville’s shot at 5:23 and Mac Bennett scored when he skated in alone on Hildebrand at 6:14.
Compher’s second goal was a beauty, a shot that found its way through a sliver of space between Hildebrand and the left post, putting the game away for good.
“I don’t think we were necessarily the better team, but we took care of the puck,” said Berenson. “We scored a shorthanded goal. We killed a penalty and that was important, because they scored two power-play goals. We were playing hard and getting pucks to the net.”
Anastos was impassioned after the game.
“If you lose because you’re out-talented, that’s one thing, but if you’re not ready, that’s totally within your control and that’s on me to make sure that me and our staff find guys that are all in and tonight I didn’t feel we had that, and that’s bothersome to me.”
Michigan (12-6-2, 4-2-0-0 Big Ten) goes home to Ann Arbor Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 to host Wisconsin, while Michigan State (8-12-3, 2-4-2-2 Big Ten) travels to Minneapolis to face Minnesota next weekend.