Just like Friday’s game against Miami, Michigan State on Saturday fell behind two goals to the RedHawks.
Unlike Friday, the Spartans had a rally in them, coming from behind for a 3-2 victory to gain a split of the weekend series.
Brian Maloney, David Booth and Mike Lalonde provided the offense as Michigan State (15-10-2, 11-7-1) won for the seventh time in its last nine games and took sole possession of fourth place in the CCHA.
“It’s hard when you’ve been going must-win, must-win, must-win and it’s been like that since (Jan. 4) at Lake Superior State,” MSU head coach Rick Comley said. “Last night was a little bit of a letdown — we weren’t going to go undefeated, obviously — but we bounced back tonight and there’s a happy group in that locker room.”
The Spartans were anything but happy in the first period as Miami built a 2-0 lead and caused a “here we go again” mood over Munn Ice Arena.
The RedHawks (16-12-2, 10-10-2) opened the scoring at the 5:57 mark of the first when freshman John Lenz camped himself to the side of the MSU goal and tipped a point shot by defenseman Chris Busby past Spartan goalie Matt Migliaccio to make it 1-0.
Miami made it 2-0 on a power play with 3:44 left in the first when freshman Chris Michael fielded a shot off the boards and fired the puck underneath a sprawled out Migliaccio for his sixth goal of the season.
Then the MSU rally began.
The Spartans got a huge late-period goal to cut their deficit to 2-1 with 22.1 seconds left in the first when Maloney tipped a point shot by senior defenseman Brad Fast behind Miami goalie David Burleigh on an MSU power play.
Booth tied the game at 2-2 for MSU with 7:05 left in the second when he banged in a rebound off his own shot after Jim Slater initially was stopped by Burleigh on a breakaway.
The Spartans scored the eventual game-winner on another power play with 4:22 left when Lalonde banged home a loose puck off of a scramble in front Burleigh.
MSU senior defenseman John-Michael Liles, who assisted on Maloney’s goal in the first, admitted there was some desperation on the MSU bench after falling behind 2-0.
“We were looking at it like we could see some things kind of slipping away and we were wondering if we were going to get any bounces at all this weekend,” he said. “The only thing to do at that point was to keep working hard and hopefully get one. We were able to get the first one and I think that was a big weight off of everybody’s shoulders and when we popped the second to tie it up everybody was like, ‘All right, we’re going now and let’s keep it going’ and we were able to carry that through the end of the game.”
Michigan State will next travel to Bowling Green next Saturday before meeting arch-rival Michigan in a home-and-home series the weekend after.
Miami, which is now tied with Western Michigan for fifth place, has next week off before hosting Ohio State on Feb. 13.
The RedHawks came into East Lansing this weekend having just once in their previous five games, so head coach Enrico Blasi didn’t have much to complain about despite Saturday’s loss.
“Anytime you get points in our league your doing something right,” he said. “Obviously they were on a hot streak going into (Friday) night and they’re playing real well right now.”