Michigan beat Michigan State Friday, thus completing a sweep of the Spartans, despite going 0 for 3 on the power play and despite giving up two man-advantage markers. The Wolverines overcame those handicaps by scoring five goals for the first time since Dec. 2, besting MSU 5-2 at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing.
"These games are big games, and now they're even bigger with the Big Ten Conference," head coach Red Berenson said. "Those are big points in the standings. Any way you want to cut it, that's a big weekend for Michigan against a good opponent.
"We had all this time to think about our last four games, which were all losses. We had all the practice time, all the meetings and the video, talking about what we're going to do, what we have to do, but to go out and do it is another thing. We did and good for them."
Freshman centerman J.T. Comphere bookended Michigan's night, scoring U-M's first goal and its last, giving the rookie nine markers this season. He also picked up two assists, tallying the first four-point game of his young career (his first three-point game too).
Michigan State struck first in this one, a one-timer blast from the left faceoff circle staking MSU to a 1-0 lead at 17:29. U-M dialed up its intensity after that and was fortunate to go into the intermission tied 1-1 after Compher's backhand shot with six seconds remaining in the period beat State goalie Jake Hildebrand to the near post.
Michigan took its first lead of the game at 5:09 of the second period when senior forward Derek DeBlois threw the puck at the net and watched as it caromed off the ice, knuckling past a dismayed Hildebrand.
However, the lead didn't last long, as Michigan State netted its second power-play marker at 7:19 when Michigan goalie Zach Nagelvoort misplayed an initial shot and a rebound, and a second-chance attempt crossed the goal line. Nagelvoort played well overall, recording 30 saves in making his fourth consecutive start.
DeBlois, who scored two goals in a game for only the second time in his career (and with an assist earned his first career three-point night), redirected junior defenseman Brennan Serville's point shot at 5:23 of the third period to reestablish a lead and recapture momentum after losing it in the second.
With that goal, U-M put three on the board for the first time since that 5-4 Dec. 2 win over Ohio State, and the Wolverines' play picked up even more, delivering their best period in two months.
Senior defenseman Mac Bennett jumped into a rush, earning a breakaway chance. With a nifty move to his backhand, he deked Hildebrand before going forehand for a 4-2 lead at 6:14 of the third.
Compher finished off the scoring with a shorthanded marker at 13:54, on a nice 2-on-1 feed from sophomore centerman Andrew Copp.
"It started with Mac," Compher said. "He made a great play down low. Then Andrew [Copp] made a great pass to me. All I had to do was tap it in the empty net."
Compher then ended up flattened on the ice and against the boards on back-to-back crosschecks from Jake Chelios, resulting in a game misconduct for Chelios and a tiny smirk from Berenson as he saw the Spartans result to cheap shots with the actual battle lost.
"This is a huge rivalry for us," Bennett said. "Winning last night, and especially capping it off tonight, that's huge for our team. Where we were at, this is a big confidence boost for us.
"Everyone's really excited right now and for good reason. We just had a good weekend. We finally got some offense going in this game too. So we're excited, and we're ready to look forward."
The Maize and Blue will return to Ann Arbor next weekend when they host Wisconsin, the first home games for the Wolverines since U-M tied Ferris State 2-2 Dec. 11.
Here is a recap of how the game played out on Twitter.
"@umichhockey: Ready for Round 2? #GoBlue #UMvsMSU pic.twitter.com/AQvcP4n01L" ready for a great start to a maize and blue winning weekend- Charlie Keider (@ckeider) January 25, 2014
Let's #GoBlue! Hoping @UMichHockey can win back-to-back games against MSU after last night's win at the Joe! #UMvsMSU #BeatMSU- Travis Radina (@TravisRadina) January 25, 2014
Tied 1-1 after the first period. That was one hell of a backhand by Compher. @umichhockey #GoBlue #BeatState- James Miller (@neutron1814) January 25, 2014
Derek DeBlois's goal is his third of the season and first since he scored on Nov. 16, 2013 at Nebraska-Omaha.- Greg Garno (@G_Garno) January 25, 2014
Bleh. Really bad goal to give up there. Spartans jam one in that Nagelvoort mishandled when he was trying to cover.- Yost Built (@YostBuilt) January 25, 2014
I haven't had the chance to see a @umichhockey game in quite a while. Tonight is a good night. #goblue- Travis Robley (@swimminginpink) January 25, 2014
Would like to thank @MSU_Hockey for this awesome view tonight from Munn Ice Arena for Michigan vs. MSU. pic.twitter.com/aZHXcHEDsY- Greg Garno (@G_Garno) January 24, 2014
COLD BLOODED! 5-2 Blue!- MVictors (@MVictors) January 25, 2014
It is good to see Michigan Hockey's offense breakout with 5 goals.- David Kennedy (@bigdjk34) January 25, 2014
FINAL: Michigan hockey beats Michigan State, 5-2, to complete a series sweep. Wolverines move to 11-0 when scoring 3+ goals.- Alejandro L. Zúñiga (@the_zuniga) January 25, 2014