The Golden Gophers are off this weekend, and so tonight was a night where the Golden Gopher Hockey Examiner could step outside the box and cover the CCHA game of the week. East Lansing, Michigan’s Munn Ice Arena hosted tonight’s battle between the Michigan State Spartans and eleventh ranked Miami-Ohio Redhawks. Drew Palmisano took the net for the home Spartans only to face Miami’s Cody Reichard.
The opening minute and change had that fast start to it that WCHA fans might be used to with teams like North Dakota, St Cloud State, and Wisconsin. Miami-Ohio’s Justin Vaive took an interference penalty at 1:38, but the ensuing Michigan State power play lasted only one faceoff, as four seconds later, Michigan State’s Anthony Hayes was called for holding the stick (at 1:42). These two early penalties showed that the officiating crew would not take any “foolish” penalties for any reason and the teams eventually got used to this as the game was five minutes old. The early power play for Miami (the one lasting four seconds) came up empty as well, so it was clear early on that goals would come at a premium. Both goaltenders were on their game as they came near the middle of the period as Miami had most of the official shots at just over six minutes played. The game slowed down for the last bit of the first half of the period, but it was the unranked Spartans who scored first as Miami’s Cody Reichard was off-balance when Kevin Walrod took a shot and scored on even strength. Walrod was assisted on even strength at 9:50 by Torey Krug. Then, over a minute later, Daultan Leveille fed Dean Chelios with a grenade that ended up in the net for a two-goal Spartan lead. Chelios’ goal was on even strength at 10:53 and assisted by Leveille and Joey Shean. The game took the pace of a track meet when Miami ended up scoring after a few quick line changes and Andy Miele put one in the net on Drew Palmisano’s short side at 12:10 unassisted. The first three goals of the game were all on even strength, and maybe even strength play would have to be emphasized for both teams in the final stretch of the opening period. Michigan State was content to play defense in the final four and a half minutes, and that’s just what they did to keep the lead at 2-1 despite Miami-Ohio’s attempts. The Redhawks outshot Michigan State 15-7 in the first, and each team was 0-1 on shortened power plays in the first. Also, of the twenty-two face offs in the first, Michigan State won twelve to Miami-Ohio’s ten.
The first ninety seconds of the second period had a slower start to it, but each team was credited with an official shot in that time. Miami then went to work by winning puck battles and taking productive shots. Then, at 2:20 Miami-Ohio’s Pat Cannone scored his tenth goal of the year in open slot space with assists going to Matt Tomassoni and Justin Vaive. The goal was also even strength, which was the fourth even strength goal of four scored on the night. As the period ticked toward the seven-minute mark in time played, Miami-Ohio was only outshooting Michigan State 3-1 but the battles took place on the perimeter as well as at neutral ice. The first penalty of the second period was on the books at 8:07 when Miami-Ohio’s Matt Tomassoni went to the bin for hooking. Michigan State got their second power play of the game, and the power play extended to a two-man advantage when Reilly Smith went for boarding at 8:51. At 10:02, while on the two-man advantage, Michigan State’s Derek Grant kept play alive from in close and Greg Wolfe potted the goal on the power play with Derek Grant getting the first assist and Brett Perlini getting the second one. Miami-Ohio would have to play chase hockey for the rest of the period, and the damage from the penalty kill was limited by Cody Reichard to only one goal. At the fourteen-minute mark, shots in the period were dead even at four, and each team had a goal in the period. At 14:47, Michigan State’s Dustin Gazely scored a cracker of a goal from an improbable angle when Cody Reichard allowed a bit of a window which the puck found. Gazely was assisted by Brett Perlini on the even strength goal, and it was at 14:47 that Cody Reichard was pulled from the net to be replaced by Connor Knapp. The final five minutes of play consisted of each team trying to establish itself for the final period of play, but it was Michigan State who had all the momentum. Michigan State was 1-2 on power plays in the second for 1-3 overall, and Miami-Ohio was awarded a power play at the end of the period when MSU’s Matt Grassi went to the sin bin for tripping at 19:54 (where Miami-Ohio was 0-1 beforehand). Also, Michigan State’s Torey Krug and Chris Forfar were assessed roughing penalties at the end of the period in addition to Miami-Ohio’s Reilly Smith. Shots in the second went 9-6 to the Redhawks and though Miami-Ohio was down two goals, they were outshooting the Spartans 24-13.
Miami-Ohio started the period with a two-man advantage for the first seventy seconds of the third period, but Michigan State’s Drew Palmisano just couldn’t be solved. Through the first eighty seconds, Miami-Ohio had eight shots, and Miami-Ohio cut the lead to one when Justin Vaive scored a power play marker at 1:41 with assists going to Carter Camper and Chris Wideman. Michigan State would answer back on even strength at 5:31 when Chris Forfar scored a goal off a pass from Kevin Walrod. In addition to Walrod, Anthony Hayes had the other assist. Don’t count Miami out at this point, though. Michigan State went ahead by three goals at 6:15 as Dustin Gazely scored an even strength goal with an assist to Torey Krug. The first two penalties of the third period were coincidental roughing minors as Michigan State’s Jake Chelios and Miami-Ohio’s Curtis McKenzie went at 6:31. The four-on-four play yielded no production, but Miami-Ohio made the score 6-4 when Andy Miele scored his thirteenth goal of the year on an assist from Will Weber. The Miami-Ohio Redhawks had the unenviable task of playing from two goals down, and as the hourglass emptied its sand, Michigan State seemed to play with Miami-Ohio at every possible point. Miami-Ohio’s Steven Spinell went to the sin bin at 13:53 for tripping, and sixteen seconds later (at 14:09) on an apparent Michigan State goal, the goal was disallowed and Derek Grant was instead assessed a two-minute minor for goaltender interference. Each team couldn’t produce on its power play chances down the stretch and that led to Miami-Ohio pulling the goaltender with under two minutes left in the game. At 18:51, Miami-Ohio’s Pat Cannone went to the locker room after getting assessed a five-minute major (and possible disqualification) for hitting from behind. Michigan State would end the game with a lengthy power play and the two goal victory as the Spartans won 7-4. On the power play at 19:42, Brett Perlini scored an empty-net goal on a shot from the blue line. Shots in the final period were 22-9 to Miami-Ohio for 46-22 overall, and Miami was 1-3 while Michigan State was 1-5 on the power play when all was set and done.
The Golden Gophers return to action on Friday, January 28th as they host the Seawolves of Alaska-Anchorage. The Golden Gopher Hockey Examiner will have bookend coverage during the weekend as well as additional national and local coverage during the week. Feel free to email [email protected] with comments or leave them below. Are you a Facebook user? Search “Minnesota Golden Gophers Hockey Examiner” for additional updates and insight.
Until next time, I’ll see you at the rink!