By Michael Caples –
ANN ARBOR - When a team wins two periods of play, there’s a good chance they will end up winning a hockey game.
The Michigan Wolverines won the first period, and they won the third period. In doing so, they posted a convincing 5-1 win over their in-state rival Michigan State Spartans.
Lindsay Sparks and Cristoval Nieves scored for the Wolverines in the opening period, while Derek DeBlois, Kevin Lynch and Jacob Trouba struck in the third en route to Michigan’s fourth win of the season.
I like the way we started the game,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “I thought we sagged in the second period and they came back, they pushed back – you know they would – and I thought we had a good third period. The all-important goal was DeBlois’. And then when we’re killing a penalty and they don’t score and Kevin Lynch does. We were scoring timely goals and that was important. It’s nice to see us have a strong third period.”
MORE: See MiHockey’s tweets from throughout the game, including photos from Yost Ice Arena.
For Lynch, it was just the latest in a long list of impressive games against the Spartans. The Grosse Pointe native now has five goals and four assists in the in-state rivalry, and he isn’t sure why he has so much success during the games with Michigan State.
“I wish I could tell you,” Lynch said. “I guess I’m just fortunate to have great teammates and great line mates to set me up for easy goals. But it must be the rivalry. Everybody on our team gets up for these games. It’s a great feeling.”
Kevin Walrod scored the lone goal for the visiting Michigan State squad, pulling the Spartans within one goal in the final minute of the second period. The Spartans failed to take advantage of the late momentum swing, however, as they weren’t able to find another way past Wolverines freshman goaltender Jared Rutledge, who had 28 saves on the night.
“He’s been off to a shaky start,” Berenson said of his young netminder. “We knew he was a good goalie inside and it just had to come out and it came out tonight. I thought he was quick. He looked comfortable, confident and made some key saves.”
Will Yanakeff stopped 29 shots for the Spartans, keeping them in the contest as long as he could. Michigan State captain Greg Wolfe said that goaltending was the least of his team’s problems Friday night.
“Yeah, you know, you feel for the guy,” Wolfe said. “He played his heart out tonight, he was standing on his head. I mean, you make all these point-blank saves, a number of breakaway saves, I think everyone was really pleased with the way he played, we just couldn’t get the job done.”
Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said his team played as expected in the first period – tentative. The Spartans had eight players who experienced their first game in the in-state rivalry in the loss.
“I liked how our team was coming together, I really did,” Anastos said. “I felt in the first period, we were real tentative, which I wasn’t surprised at. We tried to loosen things up before the game, but I wasn’t surprised that we were a little tentative. The second period, I really liked how we played. We were doing the things we felt we needed to do to give ourselves the best chance. And in the third period, I really felt that we were in a good position, and we make a terrible turnover, and that takes, not just the goal, but really it’s the punch in the stomach. You give them a goal. So then we let the game get away.”
The two teams meet once again tomorrow night at Munn Ice Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.