No. 3 Spartans Fall to Top-Ranked Miami, 4-2

By: Michigan State University
By: Michigan State University

East Lansing, Mich. - No. 3 Michigan State's eight-game winning streak came to an end on Thursday, as the Spartans suffered a 4-2 loss to top-ranked Miami at Munn Arena. The Spartans' top-ranked power play went 0-for-8 on the night against the nation's top-ranked penalty kill, as the Red Hawks got a pair of goals from Justin Mercier and the game-winner less than a minute into the final period by senior Nathan Davis to improve to 10-1 on the season and 8-1 in the CCHA. Michigan State also saw an eight-game home winning streak snapped, and fell to 8-2 on the season (4-1 CCHA).

The teams engaged in a physical, hard-hitting, hard-skating battle. Thanks to a slashing call against Chris Mueller just 1:45 into the game, Miami had an early power play chance, and wasted little time getting on the board. Freshman Carter Camper made a nice cross-slot pass from the left side of the cage to Brian Kaufman at the right post, and Kaufman beat Jeff Lerg low, glove-side to give the Red Hawks a 1-0 lead just 1:54 into the game.

The RedHawks thought they had added to their lead at 6:55, but a goal review showed that Nino Musitelli was in the crease well before the puck. The momentum shifted for the Spartans, who then tied the game at 8:47 on a score by Tim Kennedy, his team-leading tenth of the season. Justin Abdelkader initiated the play by dishing off to Mike Ratchuk as he moved up the left side. Ratchuk made a nice cross-crease pass to pass to Tim Kennedy at the base of the right circle, and Kennedy one-timed the puck past the outstretched glove hand of goalie Jeff Zatkoff.

Miami regained the lead at 14:30 on the power play - Mitch Ganzak fired a rocket from the point that ricocheted of f the back wall, and right onto the stick of Justin Mercier, who batted it out of the air past the stick-hankd of Jeff Lerg.

Michigan State battled back for a goal at 18:02 - Dustin Gazely fed Corey Tropp in the neutral zone and the freshman broke into the zone on a 2-on-1 with centerman Nick Sucharski. Tropp's offering was an absolute laser from the right circle, and it beat Zatkoff high, glove-side.

A Nathan Davis score less than a minute into the final period pushed Miami back in front for the game-winner. The scoring chance originated as a slapshot from Alec Martinez in the high slot, and Davis tipped it in front to beat Lerg glove-side.

Back-to-back infractions whistled against Miami 47 seconds apart put the Spartans skating 5-on-3, but the aggressive Miami kill kept the Spartans off the board and maintained their lead. The Spartans and Miami engaged in a physical period, but the visitors managed an aggressive, physical forecheck that limited their hosts to just three shots on net in the period. MSU tried to pull Jeff Lerg in favor of an extra skater, but Miami's Mercier potted an empty-netter with just 41 seconds remaining to ice the game.

Jeff Lerg made 29 saves, while Zatkoff made 22 for the victory.

The two teams will face off again on Friday at Munn Ice Arena. Gametime is 7 p.m.


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