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After Michigan State captain Nick Sucharski forced overtime with his third period power-play goal and the Spartans battled through an early penalty in OT to maintain a tie after 65 minutes, Nebraska-Omaha had the last say in a game that ended 3-3 with Terry Broadhurst scoring the second UNO shootout goal to give the Mavericks the extra point on the night and a lopsided split in a Thursday-Friday series in East Lansing.
Junior Joey Martin led the Mavericks in scoring with a goal and an assist and senior Jeremie Dupont stopped 22 shots on goal to improve his record to 1-0-1 on the season.
The two stories of the night were the UNO power play that scored twice and a young MSU team that never gave up, in spite of spending nine minutes in the penalty box in the second period.
“Our power play did a good job tonight,” said Maverick assistant coach Nick Fohr. “They moved the puck around well. Our goal percentage is twenty-five percent, and that’s what we hit on the power play. We just didn’t capitalize there at the end when we had a chance to win the game in regulation.
“We [also] found the guy on the back door in overtime tonight, but we just couldn’t quite get it behind Palmisano.”
Spartan sophomore Drew Palmisano stopped 29-of-32 in tonight’s effort, including saves on grade-A shots by UNO’s leading scorer Rich Purslow on the power play late in the third and in overtime.
For their part, the Spartans watched a one goal lead evaporate in the second and held on through seemingly endless penalties to keep the game close enough to come back in the third. MSU head coach Rick Comley called consistently being down a man “a killer.”
“It just wears you out,” said Comley, “but we still got back in it and tied the game, had a chance in the shootout and a tie nationally. That’s four points on the weekend. It was a game you could have with all the penalties in the second been down by three or four.”
The teams exchanged goals midway through the first period to make it a 1-1 game after one. Spartan Mike Merrifield crashed the UNO net to get one past Dupont at the 10-minute mark, and Maverick Matt Ambroz answered with UNO’s first power-play goal of the night at 11:53 after taking a pass low from Broadhurst in the right circle.
The Spartans took a 2-1 lead at 1:53 in the second when Chris Forfar netted his third of the season. Dupont saved Merrifield’s initial shot but left the rebound for Forfar in the crease.
The Mavericks answered at 5:34 with their first of two second period goals, this one coming just as a minor penalty to Spartan Anthony Hayes had expired. Brent Gwid recorded his first collegiate goal when the puck ricocheted off an MSU stick in the crease after Gwid shot toward the Spartan crease.
UNO went up 3-2 at 13:06 when Martin scored his fourth of the season, a five-hole shot during a five-minute major assessed to MSU freshman Dean Chelios. Sucharski’s tied it at 8:04 in the third on the Spartan power play after picking up Derek Grant’s easy rebound in the crease
“It was a struggle,” said Comley. “They were better, and we weren’t. We scrapped, we stayed around and hurt ourselves with penalties, obviously.”
Shooting first in the second round of the shootout, Andrew Rowe gave MSU the advantage with a goal that went up and over Dupont’s shoulder. Maverick John Kemp forced sudden death in the third round of the shootout with his goal that went between Palmisano’s legs.
With the first shot of the fourth round, Merrifield hit Dupont’s left leg. With the second shot of the fourth round, Broadhurst skated up the middle, went from forehand to backhand and found the top back of the net for the UNO shootout win.
“A young team is one thing,” said Comley, “but a young team that’s got some talent — you expect some ups and downs.”
Next weekend, Nebraska-Omaha (4-1-3 overall, 1-1-2-0 in the CCHA) hosts Lake Superior State for two games, while Michigan State — now alone in first with a league record of 4-1-1-0 — plays a home-and-home series against Michigan.