DETROIT – Three mucky goals were tale of Thursday’s matchup between MSU and Michigan at Joe Louis Arena, where the Wolverines came out victorious against their in-state rivals, 2-1.
Each goal was scored off a rebound close to the goaltenders’ creases, but a late flurry around MSU goaltender Jake Hildebrand that resulted in a goal for UM forward Phil Di Giuseppe gave Michigan the edge.
“We’ve gotta get over the hump where we finish,” MSU head coach Tom Anastos said. “We had some really good scoring chances, and we didn’t finish. So it’s hard to win scoring one goal a game.”
MSU (8-11-3, 2-3-2-0 B1G) had an opportunity in the opening minute to make a mark on the scoreboard when senior forward Dean Chelios (Bloomfield Hills) poked a loose puck from underneath Zach Nagelvoort (Holland) into the net.
However, a referee already had blown the whistle for a frozen play after losing sight of the puck before Chelios touched it, so the score remained 0-0.
“The ref was in a spot where he couldn’t see (the puck), and that’s just one of those rough calls, but I definitely think it would’ve changed the momentum,” Chelios said. “I knew the puck was laying there, and I actually got a shot off and the goalie made a great save at first and that’s when the whistle blew.”
The early goal could have been a game-changer for the Spartans, but it took more than a period and a half for a player to find the back of the net again.
From the top of the right circle, Michigan forward Derek DeBlois passed to linemate JT Compher at the goal line. Compher looked to get the puck to Alex Guptill rushing in at the far post, but the puck rebounded off MSU junior defenseman RJ Boyd’s stick back to Compher.
Compher popped the puck into the lower right corner for the first goal of the game at 8:24 of the second period.
The Spartans entered the third period trailing a goal, but showcased a lot of energy early in the final 20 minutes.
“We had a great mindset in the locker room before the third period, nobody was negative, everybody was positive,” Hildebrand said. “We just needed to get that first one and get going, and we did that so it was just a tough ending.”
At 6:04, sophomore forward Michael Ferrantino (Plymouth) evened the score.
He won a faceoff in the Wolverines’ zone and passed the puck back to redshirt freshman defenseman Rhett Holland, who sent a shot sailing toward Nagelvoort. The shot rebounded to freshman forward Joe Cox (Chelsea), and Cox swatted the wild puck toward the goal and it hit off Ferrantino into the net.
“Not the prettiest, but we’ll definitely take it — gotta get more of those,” Ferrantino said.
When the teams were minutes away from overtime, Michigan (11-6-2, 3-2-0-0 B1G) found the difference-maker with 2:18 to play.
A mad scramble in front of Hildebrand and a series of saves and rebounds resulted in Michigan forward Phil Di Giuseppe finding the better end of the deal and burying the puck for the eventual game-winning goal.
Hildebrand was pulled for the extra skater in the final minute, but the game closed out at 2-1.
The teams will meet again at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Munn Ice Arena.
“It’s tough when you give one up that late in the game,” Ferrantino said. “But now we focus on (Friday), and we’re coming back even stronger at home."