DETROIT — In the battle between of Green and White vs. Maize and Blue, the man named Red has to be sick of seeing Matt DeBlouw.
For the second year in a row, Michigan State’s DeBlouw scored the game-winning goal against Michigan at Joe Louis Arena in the annual game the teams play at the home of the Detroit Red Wings. This time around, DeBlouw ended a dandy of a hockey game 3:29 into overtime, giving the Spartans a 3-2 victory in the “Duel In The D” in front of 20,027 fans in college hockey’s most-played rivalry.
It was Michigan State’s biggest win of the year as the Spartans improved to 7-18-2 (3-8-0-0 Big Ten), and the Spartans had DeBlouw to thank. The winner was the senior’s fourth goal of the year, and it not only touched off a wild celebration along the boards, it allowed the Spartans to take home the new “Iron D” trophy given to the winner of the rivalry game played in Detroit.
“I can’t even explain it right now; it feels really good,” said DeBlouw, who earned his third game-winning goal vs. Michigan in two years. “I didn’t even see [the goal] go in. I saw [Thomas] Ebbing and [Joe] Cox running over to me, and I think it’s more gratifying to see that for my teammates and know that we accomplished something together.”
DeBlouw’s power-play winner – a one-timer from the right circle off a pass from Villiam Haag that went off the far post and into the net behind Steve Racine – ended a game that was about as even as could be. Tyler Motte had two goals for the No. 5 Wolverines, Cox countered with a pair for the Spartans, and the shot count finished 42-41 in favor of Michigan.
How close was it? The teams split the 60 faceoffs evenly, 30-30.
“There wasn’t much to choose between the teams,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “You could see it on the scoresheet and you could see it in the shot count.”
The game nearly got to the halfway point without a goal, but that changed at the 10:41 mark of the second. Michigan’s Zach Werenski slashed Cox on a breakaway, giving the Spartans forward a penalty shot. The junior made no mistake with it, getting Racine to open up his legs with a deke and then sliding the puck through to make it 1-0.
“I went and talked to [MSU goalie Jake Hildebrand] because he’s really smart, and he knows how every goalie moves in the league,” Cox said of his move. “I just asked him, ‘What are you thinking?’ He said, ‘Well, he likes to spread his legs.’ That’s all I really needed.”
Michigan (16-4-4, 7-2-2-1 Big Ten) tied the score with 3:07 left in the frame when Motte netted his nation-leading 23rd goal. He had just stepped out of the penalty box when he corralled a clearing attempt by Nicholas Boka, then skated in alone on Hildebrand and beat him clean to the blocker side.
Boka had another big contribution early in the third when he cleared a shot by MSU captain Michael Ferrantino that got past Racine off the very back edge of the goal line, and then Motte made it 24 goals in 24 games with 10:57 to play. J.T. Compher’s pass from behind the net found the junior cutting through the slot, and Motte fired into the top left corner of the net to give the Wolverines a 2-1 lead.
With that, it looked like Michigan would keep its nearly two-month-long unbeaten run intact, but Cox had other ideas. With 6:10 to play, he scored a goal similar to Motte’s second, taking a pass from below the goal line from Mackenzie MacEachern and firing quickly past Racine.
Cox couldn’t finish off the hat trick in overtime, but his chance in front of the net drew a slashing call on Joseph Cecconi that gave the Spartans the power play.
“It’s surreal,” Cox said of the win. “Especially to be able to do it for the seniors, their last time playing at The Joe against them, I’m more happy for them than I am for me or the underclassmen. The feeling of beating them with the packed crowd, it’s amazing.”
Racine finished with 38 saves for Michigan, Hildebrand had a season-high 40 for the Spartans, and the MSU senior was a calming last line of defense. The Wolverines entered the game with 63 goals in 10 Big Ten games and on pace to be college hockey’s highest-scoring team since 2000, but Hildebrand stoned Max Shuart on a breakaway in the first and was locked in from there.
“I thought it was a heck of a game from start to finish; it really had everything,” MSU coach Tom Anastos said. “Michigan is a really good team, so I thought it was great to see that puck go in [at the end].”