It took Michigan State just 1:37 to blow open a tie game with Nebraska-Omaha Friday night in a CCHA matchup at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing.
Brock Radunske, Kevin Estrada and Mike LaLonde scored within 1:37 of one another in the third period to break a 2-2 deadlock and lift the Spartans to a 5-2 win over the Mavericks, extending MSU’s win steak to four straight.
Radunske scored the go-ahead goal with 16:57 left. Brian Maloney slipped a pass by two Omaha defenders as he skated behind the net, finding Radunske wide open in front of goalie Dan Ellis. Radunske fired a one-timer past Ellis, beginning the three-goal barrage.
“That was really big,” said Radunske, who also had an assist on the Spartans’ first goal. “We didn’t want to take a tie score deep into the third period and that goal gave the whole team confidence. We finished the game off well after that.”
MSU (12-9-1, 8-6-0) scored five unanswered goals after the Mavericks (8-12-3, 6-10-1) scored twice within the first eight minutes. Micah Sanford and Aaron Smith scored six minutes apart to give Omaha a 2-0 lead with 12:05 left in the first period.
“We wanted to come out and get a lead,” said Mavericks coach Mike Kemp, whose team is 1-5-1 in its last seven games. “You feel good with a two-goal lead.”
The lead didn’t last long, however, as the Spartans responded with consecutive power-play goals within 2:01 of each other from Maloney and Brad Fast to tie the score at 2-2 with just over six minutes left in the period.
“It was the Michigan State power play that changed the game. They came out and zipped the puck, they got their two opportunities, went two-for-two in the first period. Now, all of a sudden, you’re playing from behind because of a couple of great power-play goals,” said Kemp.
Following a scoreless second period, MSU came out determined to keep its winning streak alive. The Spartans not only scored three goals on offense, but their penalty-kill stoned UNO on five power-play opportunities. The Mavericks went 0-for-7 in the game, while MSU was 2-for-5.
Michigan State sophomore goalie Matt Migliaccio was a big reason for the win. He finished with 27 saves, including eight on power plays.
“Goaltending has been the difference for us the last several games,” said MSU coach Rick Comley, whose team is now 4-1-0 in second half of the season. “We have a very young team and our experience and confidence are rising with each game.”
The Spartans and Mavericks finish their series Saturday in East Lansing.