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Berry hits 'home run' to lead Spartans' win

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Michigan State goalie Jake Hildebrand makes one of his 40 saves in the Spartans' 3-0 victory over arch-rival Michigan Saturday night. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – Michigan State junior Matt Berry thought long and hard about what his goal celebration would look like should he score against arch-rival Michigan in the consolation game of the Great Lakes Invitational at Comerica Park.

The inspiration for his home run swing Saturday night was three-years in the making.

“I actually got it from them, they did the field goal a few years ago back on our team,” said Berry, who launched into a swing after his third-period goal gave the Spartans a two-goal lead.

Michigan’s David Wohlberg pretended to kick a field goal after he scored the final goal of a 5-0 win over the Spartans in the Big Chill at Michigan Stadium in 2010.

Berry’s power-play goal at 7:32 of the third came from the low slot – or what would be the hot corner if not for the hockey rink that covers much of the baseball infield at the home of the Detroit Tigers – pretty much sealed the 3-0 win for Michigan State.

“I thought about hitting a home run if I scored tonight,” said Berry, who scored his first goal of the season in Friday's shootout loss to Michigan Tech. “I actually thought about it yesterday but when I scored, too much adrenaline and I didn’t think to do it. I was glad to get it off today.”

The loss was the first time Michigan has been shutout since Michigan Tech goalie Pheonix Copley made 38 saves in leading the Huskies to a 4-0 semifinal win at over the Wolverines in the 2012 GLI at Joe Louis Arena.

Center Thomas Ebbing gave the Spartans a 1-0 lead at 1:23 of the opening period when his shot from the top of the left circle deflected off a Michigan defender and past goalie Steve Racine.

Right wing Brent Darnell finished the scoring for the Spartans (6-9-2) with an even-strength goal at 13:52 of the third period, while goalie Jake Hildebrand made 29 saves in registering his third career shutout, and first of the season.

“We wanted to come in here and accomplish two things,” Spartans coach Tom Anastos said. “One, we wanted to come in and win the tournament. The other was to take a step forward in getting better and I thought we did that.

“I thought we had good goaltending, thought we played hard defensively, thought we competed real well. I liked that we were able to establish some offense and some offensive opportunities both on our rush and also our power play moved the puck around real well and we did a good job forechecking; a lot that we liked tonight.”

For the second straight year, the only team with a winning record entering the GLI left Detroit without a tournament title. The No. 3 ranked team in the nation, Michigan (10-4-2)  finished the month with a 1-3-1 record in five games. Last year, Western Michigan entered the annual Christmas week tournament with the only winning record among the four teams. The Broncos lost to Michigan Tech in the championship game.

“I think they took it to us in the second period,” UM coach Red Berenson said. “We killed two penalties … but we couldn’t do much. I thought we had a good first period, had some good chances, either he (Hildebrand) made the save or we hit the bar or missed the net. … We had trouble putting back-to-back periods together.”

The win was Michigan State's first outdoor victory. The Spartans are now 1-1-2 on outdoor rinks, and 1-1-1 against the Wolverines. ... Saturday's game was the sixth time Michigan has played outdoors. The Wolverines have also played outdoors at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Camp Randall in Madison, Wis., and Progressive Field in Cleveland. UM now owns a 2-3-1 record in outdoor games.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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