Saturday, January 14, 2012

Icers pick up five points on weekend vs NMU

Coming into the weekend on a three-game losing streak, the MSU hockey team picked up a big five points with a shoot-out win Friday and a regulation win Saturday against Northern Michigan.

The Spartans and Wildcats are now tied in the conference standings.

Friday's game was a high-scoring. NMU(6-7-5-2 CCHA) took a 2-0 lead in the first period, but MSU (7-7-4-2) responded with four straight goals in less than seven minutes from Chris Forfar, Mike Merrifield, Anthony Hayes and Kevin Walrod. It was Merrifield's first game back since getting injured against Michigan in the final home game of 2011.

But NMU scored with less than a minute to go to cut the lead to 4-3 after one. The final minute of the period would be big for MSU. Tim Buttery scored in the second period, extending the lead to 5-3, but NMU scored in the final minute again to make it a one-goal game.

And again, NMU scored in the final minute of the third to tie it at five and send the game into overtime. In the shoot-out, Matt Berry scored MSU's only goal and Drew Palmisano made three saves to secure the win — the same thing that happened in MSU's other shoot-out against U-M earlier in the year.

On Saturday, MSU opened up the game with a lot of energy, but NMU took a 1-0 lead about five minutes into the game. Berry tied up the game late in the period. Brock Shelgren gave MSU a 2-1 lead in the second period, and the Spartans held on for the win. Will Yanakeff made 23 saves in goal.

One of MSU's problems in the sweep by Miami was the powerplay. It was once again a problem this weekend. The Spartans went 0-for-3 with one shot on Friday and 0-for-3 again on Saturday, including a five-minute powerplay that turned into a 5-on-3. In the last four games, MSU is 0-for-19 on the powerplay and isn't really generating many chances at all. NMU came in with the best penalty kill in the CCHA, but MSU needs to get something going on its powerplay.

They should have had six points, but after getting swept last week, it was a strong and needed performance for the Spartans. With the five points, MSU has moved into a tie for eighth place in the CCHA standings, but three points behind third-place fourth-place Lake Superior State, whom MSU hosts for two games next weekend (Michigan won Sunday, moving into third place). It will be a chance to pick up a lot of ground.

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