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Wildcats rally

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Northern Michigan's Dominik Shine played an inspired game thanks to the presence of his grandmother. Shine had the game-tying power-play goal late in the third. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT -- There was one person in particular that lit a fire under Northern Michigan junior Dominik Shine as he prepared for the third-place game of the Great Lakes Invitational.

"It's been kind of a rough year for my family because my grandmother, she's gone through cancer so she was here at the game," Shine said. "I kind of saw her in warm-ups so it kind of gave me a little more motivation. I was excited to play in front of her. She hadn't seen me play in a while."

Shine is a Pinckney, Mich. native.

Stella Alcala, Shine's grandmother, had to be proud of her grandson, who scored the game-tying goal on the power play with just 4:15 left in the third period.

Shine's teammate, Robbie Payne, scored the game-winning goal with 1:22 left in overtime to give the Wildcats a 2-1 victory over Michigan State at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday night.

Payne is from Gaylord, Mich. and had a contingent of his own supporters.

"Growing up, we always watched the GLI, my family, and now they got to come down here," Payne said. "I think I had 20 people here watching so it was pretty good to see them and be able to score in front of them. I got a bunch of texts right after the game. It was pretty cool."

Although they did not win the championship, Kyle believes finishing on a high note can help his team going forward.

"We hope it's a springboard." Kyle said. "Right now teams are so close. There's not a ton of offense. Every game's close, every game's tight. We're starting to get healthy right now. Hopefully we can use it as a springboard."

Northern Michigan was missing captain Shane Sooth, who was a late scratch due to illness.

Wildcats coach Walt Kyle said Sooth took some medicine and tried to go in warm-ups but did not feel well.

The only other change for the Wildcats was in goal as Mathias Israelsson started. Atte Tolvanen started Tuesday's game against Michigan Tech.

The illness/injury front was better for the Spartans, who missed freshman Mason Appleton in the third period of Tuesday's game against Michigan Tech with a lower-body injury, but saw Appleton able to play Wednesday.

"He played a real good game, was on the puck, had the puck on his stick, made good decisions," Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said. "He played a real good game, especially considering we weren't sure he would go."

The Spartans jumped out to the early 1-0 lead when Joe Cox put home a rebound of Travis Walsh's left-point shot just 1:06 into the game.

Captain Michael Ferrantino got the second assist on the goal, the sixth for Cox this season.

The Wildcats had a chance when Mackenzie MacEachern was called for hooking at 13:16 but the Spartans' shot-blocking crew only allowed one to reach goaltender Jake Hildebrand.

The Spartans got their first man-advantage at 2:59 of the second when Cohen Adair was called for interference.

But the Wildcats were as good as the Spartans on the penalty kill, allowing just one shot.

The Wildcats had an excellent shorthanded chance when Jordan Klimek was in the box for slashing as Dominik Shine came in on a breakaway but Hildebrand made the save.

The Spartans got their third power play of the period when Adair went back to the box, this time for hooking, at 16:34 but the Wildcats allowed just one shot.

In the third, the power-play advantage went to the Wildcats as the Spartans were called for a couple of early infractions, MacEachern for roughing at :26 and Zach Osburn for slashing at 4:11.

But the Spartans killed it off as they have most of the month, 23 of 26 to that point.

The Wildcats finally broke through against the Spartans' penalty killers when they needed it most.

With Brennan Sanford in the box for boarding, Shine beat Hildebrand from in front, putting the puck in the right side of the net at 15:45.

John Siemer and Darren Nowick assisted.

"It was mostly a great play by Nowick and Siemer, they were really working the puck well and I kind of just stood out front the whole time," Shine said. "It was great, exciting to score in front of my family and friends that are here."

Appleton had a good chance early in overtime but could not beat Israelsson.

The Wildcats won a face-off in the Spartans' end and Payne buried the shot at 3:38 of overtime.

For the Spartans, who could not hold a lead again and lost in overtime, it was a bitter weekend.

"We kind of just have to finish off games," Cox said. "Everyone's got to dig down. Everyone's tired. Their team's tired, we're tired. Really just have to dig down, get those clears and we didn't do that in both of those games and we saw the puck go in the net."

The good news for the Spartans is they do manage to get the lead. But keeping it is the issue.

"We're going to have to do some soul-searching," Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said. "It's a tough way to start the second half of the season, without a doubt. Giving up late leads and losing in overtime the way we did, it's going to be a character check for us. I think the world of the guys in our locker room. If there's any group that's going to keep digging and grinding, it's this group. Obviously we have to learn to make key plays at key times. I'm very confident this group will keep working at that."

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