Marquette, Mich. - Nick Sirota recorded a hat trick - the first against MSU in more than two years - and posted a 3-1 victory over Michigan State in Marquette on Friday night. The teams had a combined 22 power plays on the night, limiting flow in the game - but Northern's 25 blocked shots (compared to 10 for MSU) limited the Spartans chances. MSU fell to 18-7-5, 14-5-3 CCHA, while NMU extended its unbeaten streak to three games and is now 11-15-3, 8-11-2 in conference tilts.
"We didn't play particularly well tonight," admitted Rick Comley after the game. "I thought we might have struggled a little to adjust to the bigger surface, but Northern did a good job of blocking shots - we just couldn't get them through."
NMU held a 9-3 shot advantage at the first intermission, but parlayed one of their first shots of the game into an advantage on the scoreboard. Gregor Hanson put the shot on Jeff Lerg from the left side, but Lerg made the save. Moving left-to-right across the top of the crease, Nick Sirota corralled the puck and forced it between Lerg's left foot and the post for the opening goal of the game at 1:55.
Sirota's second of the game, shorthanded, put the Wildcat lead at 2-0 at 12:23. The puck squirted out of the Spartans' offensive zone and Sirota jumped it, and went in on a two-on-two with Mark Olver. Sirota dished off to Olver at the top of the left circle, and Olver made a nice pass back to the junior winger at the right hash marks. Sirota one-timed the pass over the arm of a sprawling Jeff Lerg.
Sirota completed his hat trick at the 16:21 mark of the middle period on a power play when he stuffed the puck five-hole past Lerg. The play was reviewed for possible goaltender interference, but the goal stood and the Wildcats took a 3-0 lead into the locker room in the second intermission.
Looking to spark his team, Comley inserted Bobby Jarosz into the game for the third period. "It wasn't anything that Jeff did, or didn't do," noted the coach. "He was kind of out there alone. I did it to try to get something going in front of him. Credit goes to Bobby - whenever he has to come in cold, he is up to the challenge and has responded well. He did his job in the third, and made some nice saves."
Jarosz finished with six saves in the final period, while Lerg made 15 in the first two combined.
MSU's best period was the third, when the teams combined for 12 power-play chances. The Spartans broke up the shutout at 17: 42, shortly after Alan Dorich was assessed a five-minute major for checking from behind. Jeff Dunne took the pass from Daniel Vukovic at the right point and got the puck past goalie Brian Stewart. It was the first goal of the season for the senior defenseman; classmate Bryan Lerg was also credited with an assist.
The teams will meet again on Saturday at the Berry Events Center. Gametime is 7:35 p.m.