Game Notes (2/21): Michigan State vs. Nebraska-Omaha
MICHIGAN STATE vs. NEBRASKA-OMAHA:
In what became a one-sided affair for MSU, the game featured some good end to end action at times throughout the game and a brawl in the 3rd period that resulted in four players receiving not only ejections but game disqaulifications as well.
Early on in this game, UNO look to have the early jump and wanted to try and bounce back from the 3-0 shutout from the night before. The Mavericks had Spartans freshman netminder Dominic Vicari working hard early on as he faced several good shots and kept the Mavericks off the board. MSU meanwhile, looked a bit lathargic in the early going and leaning heavily on Vicari to bail them out. However, when the Spartans finally got their offensive act together, things began to turnaround. MSU got their first shot on goal at the 8:20 mark, which coincidentally was also the Spartans first goal of the night. Sophomore David Booth forces a turnover in the MSU zone and busts up the side boards towards the UNO zone. Sophomore Colton Fretter (ATL) does a nice job of beating Mavericks freshman defenseman Phil Angell to the front of the UNO net and receives a nice pass from Booth once there. Fretter then makes an attempt to freeze UNO freshman netminder Chris Holt (NYR) by going from his forehand to backhand before backhading a wrister that makes its way behind Holt and into the net for the score. Booth and junior Kevin Estrada (CAR) would be credited with the assists. After the Fretter goal, MSU seemed to have more jump in their step as they were able to shift the momentum to their side. The Spartans did an excellent job of bottling up the Mavericks in their own zone thanks to some good pressure. As the period progressed, the Mavericks also had troubling containing the MSUís speedy forwards and were losing the territorial battles as the Spartans continuously kept getting into their zone. At the 15:53 mark, MSU freshman defenseman A. J. Thelen was called for a cross-check giving the Mavericks a 5-on-3 power play, after Fretter was called for a hold exactly a minute earlier. MSU managed to kill of the penalties thanks to some stellar saves by Vicari.
The 2nd period was by far the Spartans best period of the night as they would once again cash in on a UNO turnover. The turnover that came deep inside the MSU zone and became a 3-on-1 chance for the Spartans top line of juniors Jim Slater (ATL) and Mike Lalonde and freshman Tommy Goebel. As Goebel gains puck possession, he skates into the UNO zone flanked by Lalonde and Slater. Slater does a nice job of going to net to provide a partial screen in front of Holt. Just then, Goebel feathers a pass to Lalonde whose just behind Slater and proceeds to flip the puck over the right shoulder of Holt for the score at the 39 second mark. Slater and Goebel would be cresited with the assists on Lalondeís goal, making the score 2-0 MSU. The Spartans would continue to pressure the UNO offense and Vicari would continue to crush any scoring opportunities that UNO could muster. At about the halfway point of the period, things began to get chippy as the Mavericks would start to become frustrated. However, the chippiness would reach explosive proportions later in the game. At the 12:47 mark, UNO defenseman Phil Angell would be called for a trip putting the Spartans on the power play. The last thing that UNO wanted to do at this point was to allow the Spartans to extend their lead. At the 14:34 mark, thatís exactly what would happen. MSU does a nice job of moving the puck around. Lalonde who is parked just above the left faceoff circle gains possession. He then dishes off to Slater who is standing just inside of the goal line. Slater then passes off to Goebel who is parked in front Holt. Goeble then proceeds to sweep the puck by Holt via 5-hole for the score. Slater and Lalonde would notch the assists. Now the Spartans have opened up a 3-0 lead. Despite alowing two goals, Holt was the Mavericks life-saver in the period as the Spartans peppered him with shots. Of the 18 shots in this period alone, Holt stopped 16 of them.
The final stanza saw MSU take full charge of the game and UNO completely lose it in more ways than one. However, the Mavericks would start the final period on the power play thanks to a roughing minor that Jim Slater took late in the 2nd period. The Mavericks were looking to try and something by Vicari and had hoped the 5-on-4 power play would do it. But the Spartans gave them a little more help at the 42 second mark as sophomore defenseman Corey Potter (NYR) would be called for boarding, giving the Mavericks a two-man advantage. While the UNO power play was better, it still would complete empty once again thanks to some excellent saves by Vicari. From there, the Mavericks defensive coverage would breakdown as the Spartans would continually drive the UNO net and Holt having to come up big just to keep the score from really getting out of hand. One big defensive coverage mistake that UNO would make would result in MSUís next goal at the 6:36 mark. It begins with a clean faceoff win by Slater who manages to get the puck back to senior defenseman Joe Markusen. Markusen then fire the puck at the UNO net. Holt does a nice of kicking it out but the rebound goes right to Goebel in the slot area. Goebel then rifles a low shot that makes its way into the net going just under Holtís left pad for the score. Markusen and Slater would notch the assists, extending the Spartans lead to 4-0. Things would begin to get heated once again around the midway point of the period as the Mavericksí frustration would rear its head once again. A little later, Vicari makes the save of the night on a breakaway attempt by Mavericks junior Anthony Adams who tries to freeze Vicari in hopes of slipping the puck by him. Undaunted, Vicari holds his ground and absolutely stones Adams, once again denying the Mavericks of a score. At the 11:55 mark, Mavericks freshman Scott Parse would be called off for a cross-check, giving the Spartans another opportunity to extend their lead. At the 13:05 mark, junior Lee Farladeau (NYR) would extend the Spartans lead to 5-0. It begins with clear to the sideboards by Holt after stopping MSU freshman Mike Lawrenceís shot. After some puck movement around the perimeter, Fretter gains possession and makes a nice cross-ice pass to Estrada. Estrada then wheels around to get into a better shooting position. He then fires a low shot that labelled for the inside corner just inside the far post. Farladeau who is jostling for positioning with a UNO defender, appears to have tipped in the puck past Holt for the score. However, the replay showed that the puck actually banked off of Farladeauís right skate blade and into the net. Regardless the goal stood. Estrada and Potter would be credited with the assists.
Immediately after Farladeauís goal was scored, the Mavericks frustrations would boil over and things would get very ugly. It all begins when UNO freshman defenseman Bobby Henderson punches and knocks down the bigger Farladeau. Estrada then comes to the aid of his teammate and mixes it up with Henderson. Henderson then decides to take a swing at Estrada. From there, the rest of the Spartans (with the exception of Vicari) skate towards Henderson and then all hell breaks loose. Henderson then tangles up with Corey Potter delivering a few sucker punches to Potterís head and jawing at the same time. While Potter and Henderson were busy tangling with another, another UNO player sucker punches MSU forward Drew Miller (ANA). Miller in the heat of the moment then decides to drop the mitts with UNO sophomore Josh Weekes and get into an out-and-out fight. Several haymakers were thrown before Miller tackles Weekes to the ice and then continues delivering more punches to Weekes as one of the linesman attempts to break them up. Meanwhile, another heated exchange involving UNO junior Dan Hacker was taking play elsewhere. The melee stopped the game for several minutes as the players had to be separated and the penalties handed out. When the players were finally separated, the penalty situation had to be assessed. When it was all said and done, four players (two from each team) were ejected and handed game disqualifications: freshman Drew Miller (ANA) and junior Kevin Estrada (CAR) for MSU and freshman Bobby Henderson and junior Dan Hacker for UNO. Amazingly, Josh Weekes was not ejected nor was he even given any type of penalty. As a result of the DQs, which carry an automatic one-game suspension, the ejected players will miss the next game for their respective teams. Henderson was also assessed an extra minor penalty for the initial rough on Farladeau, so once again the Spartans would be back on the power play. The Spartans would settle things down on the power play, and UNO would escape the short-handed situation without allowing a goal. Holt made some nice saves and this time got some good defensive help from senior Mike Gabinet (LA), who helped break up an MSU scoring attempt. Late in the period, UNO make a last ditch effort to try and break Vicariís shutout, but Vicari was once again up to the task of shutting the door on UNO. Things began to get chippy again as the period and game wound down, but the officials took no chances of allowing another melee breakout. At the 18:31 mark, Gabinet and MSU junior Adam Nightingale get into a shoving match that results in matching roughing minors and an early shower for both players. When the final horn sounded, Vicari and his MSU teammates completed a thorough sweep of their conference rivals and holding them to zero goals in the weekend series.
What won the game for MSU was a combination of capitalising on the UNO defensive lapses and mistakes along with some outstanding and clutch goaltending by Dominic Vicari. UNO continues to struggle on the road and they continue to have numerous defensive issues that need to be dealt with. Despite giving up 5 goals in the loss, freshman Chris Holt did his best to keep the Mavericks in the game all night. He made some stellar saves but didnít have much support from the team in front of him.
In addition to Vicari, the Spartans top line of Goebel-Slater-Lalonde was excellent. Slater continues to be impressive as he shows that heís more than just a goal-scorer by getting into the physical aspects of the game as well. Slater, who is an early Hobey Baker candidate continues to be all over the MSU scoresheet as well as he notched 3 asssists in this game.
The Spartans are idle next week, and finish out their regular season against archrival Michigan on March 5th & 6th. The Mavericks return home where they will host visiting Alaska-Fairbanks next weekend, before closing out their regular season with their usual season-ending home-and-home series versus non-conference namesake rival Minnesota State-Mankato Mavericks on March 4th and 6th.