Two goals a minute apart in the middle of the first set off a seven-goal night for Michigan State as the unranked Spartans upset No. 11 Miami, 7-4, to open this weekend’s series.
“We scored,” said MSU head coach Rick Comley. “The puck went in. They’re a threat, really, to take over at any time, but we kept scoring. It wasn’t that we were dominating them to score; the puck just kept going in.”
Dustin Gazley had two goals and Brett Perlini had a goal and two assists to lead the Spartans in scoring and Drew Palmisano—who didn’t know he’d be starting until midway through the team’s warm-ups, when Will Yanakeff aggravated his groin—made 42 saves in the win.
Andy Miele had two goals for the RedHawks. Starter Cody Reichard allowed four goals on 12 shots; Connor Knapp stopped 7-of-9 in relief but was the goalie of record for the game.
“They scored seven, we scored four,” is how Miami head coach, Enrico Blasi, summed up the game. The reason for the goalie switch? “At that point, they scored four, we only scored two.”
Michigan State (10-11-4 overall, 6-9-2-0 in the CCHA) led 2-1 after one and never trailed in the contest. The RedHawks (13-9-3, 10-7-2-1) tied it up with Matt Tomassoni’s goal at 2:20 in the second but trailed the rest of the way after Greg Wolfe put the Spartans ahead again, 3-2, at 14:47 in the second.
“We scored easy and Palmy made some really good saves and we were able to get the lead,” said Comley. “We were never safe. Until Perlini scored … they were in danger of coming back. They’re really good.”
Perlini’s goal was the empty-netter that made it 7-4 with 18 seconds left in regulation. That was when the Spartans said they finally felt safe.
“It was really, really good that we got the open net,” said Gazley. “I think we settled down after that.”
Kevin Walrod and Dean Chelios scored 1:03 apart in the middle of the first to give MSU the early two-goal lead, Walrod from Torey Krug and Chelios set up by Daultan Leveille. Miele answered for Miami at 12:10, a pretty shot from between the circles to make it 2-1 after one.
Pat Cannone—who left the game with a misconduct for checking from behind at 18:51 in the third—netted the tying goal for Miami at 2:20 in the second with Palmisano trapped out of the crease, Wolfe’s power-play goal at 10:02 and Gazley’s first goal of the night at 14:47 put MSU ahead 4-2 after two.
“They caught up early,” said Perlini, “we came back, and that was a really good sign for us.”
Justin Vaive tipped in Carter Camper’s shot with 14 seconds left on over a minute of five-on-three Miami power play at 1:41 in the third to draw the RedHawks to within one again, but Comley said that the Spartans could have fared far worse. “We needed to get through that five-on-three without them scoring twice. That was a big thing. You knew they were probably going to get one with their skill.”
The Spartans scored two quick goals minutes later to give MSU a three-goal lead; at 5:31, Chris Forfar caught his own rebound off the back boards for his first goal of the season, and Gazley rode the puck down the right wing and with one hand pushed it between Knapp’s knees to make it 6-3 at 6:15.
Miele’s second goal of the night to end Will Weber’s sweet cross-crease feed at 8:54 made it 6-4, but Perlini found the empty net from nearly the middle of the rink at 19:42 to cap the game.
“I just really wanted to end it,” said Perlini. “You’ve got to get hungry in that situation, you know, take control of the puck and have another scoring chance.”
The teams meet for Saturday’s rematch at 7:35 p.m.
“We’ve got to play a lot better defense than we did tonight,” said Blasi. “They outworked us to pucks tonight, got their chances, and scored—and we didn’t.”